Since 1894, the U.S. government has been concerned with the proper intake of nutrients by its citizens with starting with the publication of the first dietary recommendations 1
. At the time, officials were concerned with undernutrition
. In 1917, How to Select Foods
, was released. This new publication made recommendations based on five food groups: meat and milk, cereals, vegetables and fruits, fats and fatty foods, and sugars and sugary foods. With war on the horizon, in early 1940, the Food and Nutrition Board was established to advise the Army on the nutritional health for the fighting force. This board developed the first recommendations for that are used today, the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA)
. The first recommendations were focused on the amounts of energy needed as well as specific nutrients that resulted in common deficiency for the age. This researched along with war in progress lead to the "Basic 7" and food rationing for citizens and specialized meals for soldiers in the form of K-rations 2
. Following the war, the focus on nutrition has turned to the citizenry. From 1956 to 1992, the U.S. Department of Agriculture recommended the "Basic Four". Many may recall the lessons of the food pyramid that was in place for over two decades, starting in 1992. Now, in our most modern era, the "MyPlate
" program, as introduced in 2011, uses an illustrated plate to point out food types and proportions to prevent overnutrition
prevalent in the U.S. today.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture released the MyPlate program in 2011 in an attempt to educate the masses on the most current dietary guidelines. The program, while a reminder to some, is a starting point for others to learn and live a healthy eating style. As eating and drinking has become a caloric gorging for many, the department works to focus on the following to develop a healthier nation:
- Focus on variety, amount, and nutrition.
- Choose foods and beverages with less saturated fat, sodium, and added sugars.
- Start with small changes to build healthier eating styles.
- Support healthy eating for everyone. 3
It may come to a surprise by some that a person may be malnourished
although they regularly consume meals that make them feel full. This is typically due to the type of food consumed. For instance, the beloved french fry is a food with little to no nutritional value and saturated with fats, yet McDonald's alone produces over 3.4 billion pounds of french fries per year 4
The good news, is there is a movement towards a lifestyle that mimics our grandparents or great grandparents way of living. Whether for financial or health reasons, Americans from rural to urban areas are growing their own foods. There are many advantages as society shifts towards this type of living. When it comes to nutrition, it's about knowing what you eat. Whole foods have an overall greater nutritional value than processed foods that are too common in our grocery aisles today. With the many resources available today (USDA, The People's Garden
), getting started is easier than ever.
As of May 2016, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) announced the new Nutrition Facts labels
for packaged foods which should be in use by Spring 2018. The change comes in response to the need to provide more accurate nutritional information. A big move is to label serving sizes that are more in line with actual consumption. For instance, a consumer today may drink a bottle of cola that appears to have 150 calories at a glance, however has 375 calories when the entire 12 oz. bottle is consumed, a typical action by most. The new labels will require the labeling of 375 calories in this example versus the current 150 calories. Another big move will be the requirement to label 'Added' sugars. With the new labeling a consumer will be able to clearly see the sugars added in addition to those naturally occurring sugars. That last major change will be the retirement of labeling Vitamins A and C. Instead Vitamins D and potassium will take its place to reflect the current common deficiencies in the U.S. diet.