Things you might not have known about the Dietary Goals for Americans, published by the McGovern Committee in 1977.

There were actually two editions of the Dietary Goals for Americans, as produced by the McGovern Committee, one published early 1977, the other in December 1977. It was 131 pages.

Dissenting views were published in a volume titled Supplemental Views. Its length? 898 pages.

Here is a copy of the DGA. (link)

There were also two forewords to the Dietary Goals for Americans, one short and laudatory, written and signed off by George McGovern.

Th second foreword, called the Supplemental Foreword, was much less sanguine. Where the McGovern Foreword was half a page, the second foreword was three pages of criticisms. Here is the first page.

By the way, for those just dropping in, what was the McGovern Report on the Dietary Goals for Americans? It was the document that established the first set of government dietary guidelines, and all subsequent dietary guidelines have derived from its example.

For example: Food Pyramid, MyPlate, etc. It was a big deal in setting the precedent for official nutritional policy. 

That said, let’s proceed. The second foreword was VERY critical of the document that it precedes.

Among its criticisms was a criticism of the recommendation to reduce cholesterol. Does this look a little familiar?

This is interesting, because many professional organizations had already decided that cholesterol intake wasn’t something to be concerned with–in 1977.

Moving on.

Now, the DGA report from 1977 had a recommendation to reduce from 40 to 30% fat, a target that Americans didn’t seem to have actually met according to any data-set that is available, see: (link)

What is often NOT emphasized is that the first edition of the report had a recommendation to reduce meat consumption. Now in the THIRD foreword (not just two!), Bob Dole (yes, he was around then) praises the new report scrapping this recommendation. (link)

Before wrapping up this brief discussion of the DGA, let’s take an explicit look at the recommendations about sugar. Is 1977 DGA sugar-friendly, as is often claimed by the Snackwells, the Sugary Satan crowd?

It bears mentioning: sugar is mentioned 13 times in public statements printed just before the preface, all in a negative light. These statements were given by Drs. Lee, Hegsted, and Winikoff, and George McGovern. All statements specifically singled out sugar as a problem.

What about the recommendations themselves? The second edition of the DGA actually slashed recommended sugar % of total calories from 15% in the first edition to 10%.

For reference, Americans today consume about 15-20% of calories from added sugar, or about two-fold higher than the 1977 recommendations. (link)

Fortunately, Americans are slashing their sugar intakes. Yet obesity continues its uptick.

The DGA Report notes however that Americans at the consumed 24% of calories from sugar, or 18% from added sugar. Not very different from today. Importantly, however, the Report is very explicit (graphically) about the 10% target.

What were some of the data that underlaid the recommendation to reduce fat and increase starchy carbohydrates? Same data seen during industrialization of every country: an increase in fat % of total cals, and a decrease in carb % (with an increase in chronic disease).

That wraps up this thread, and now I am going to bed. If I can figure out a way to do it and not get crushed by time, I’d like to also do a full-fledged thread on history of sugar recommendations in DGAs.

Was DGA sugar-friendly? For 1977, it seems that the answer is a definitive no, but God willing that I have time, we shall continue to look into this.



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