Nutritional in this new American diet was
Nutritional Guidelines and Chronic IllnessA History of USDA Dietary GuidelinesIn the early Twentieth Century, prevention of infectious disease was the main health concern among the American populace. However, with biomedical advancements in reverse engineering pathogens, vaccines became the solution to treating these primary causes of death: tuberculosis, influenza, scarlet fever, smallpox, and pneumonia. Subsequently, the average life expectancy of 38-48 years began to rise by the mid-1930s, allowing people a lifestyle that involved time for an emerging food culture (Mills, 2000). As the world assimilated to this post-World War II era, the end of rationing and emergence of food corporations meant more available wheat, sugars, and processed food; the at time, the American people had not yet had received formal information about proper nutrition. The result of a subsequent lack of essential nutrients in this new American diet was the creation of the first–loose–government dietary guidelines in 1943. However, as processed foods rapidly became an integral part of both U.
S industries and the American lifestyle, the guide suggested that Americans should eat whatever foods they desired–in moderation. Conversely, as life expectancy rose and American lifestyles transformed, the manifestation of chronic illness–primarily heart disease, diabetes, obesity and cancer–in middle-aged Americans began to appear (Weisz, 2014). Little was known about degenerative chronic disease, and its characteristic of late onset of symptoms only allowed for diagnoses when the illnesses were too advanced to treat (Weisz, 2014).
Consequently, the medical community had to make distinctions between curing infectious disease, and preventing chronic disease. As movements spread to halt the advancement of diseases before they reached a stage of incurability, prevention through diet become a popular notion; it soon became recognized that food can function as an epigenetic factor to the manifestation of disease. At the same time was the start of the Green Revolution; a movement among the agroscience community to engineer a high yielding wheat that could alleviate global famine. Subsequently, each new food policy since the 1950’s has been made to advise the American population on how to properly eat in order to prevent chronic disease, with all recommendations involving the consumption of hybridized wheat. Consequently, USDA dietary guidelines have proven ineffective in their primary goal of prevention.Over the past four decades, the percent of children living in the United States who have been diagnosed with a chronic illness has increased from 1.
8% in 1960 to 7% in 2004, translating to an increase in over 4 million children (Perrin, J, Bloom, S, Gortmaker, S, 2007). As of 2012, about 117 million American adults (around half of all adults) were diagnosed with a chronic illness; one fourth of America’s adult population had been diagnosed with two. Increases in the frequency of childhood obesity from the 1960s can be seen in the more than tripling of obesity prevalence from around 5% in 1980 to over 17% in 2014 (CDC, 2017; CDC, n.d.).
Likewise, the percentage of adults living in the United States diagnosed with diabetes has increased from 3.3% in 1980 to 7.4% in 2005 (CDC, 2011.).
These trends emphasize the problematic of misinformation in proposed nutrition guidelines– oriented toward prevention of chronic illness–leading to the persistent manifestation of disease among Americans. An explanation as to why 74-years of government mandated nutritional advice have been ineffective can been seen by chronologically cross comparing the proposed health problems faced by the American populace, and the USDA’s advice and solutions. The one steady occurrence throughout all guidelines is the repetitive recommendation to increase the consumption of “complex” cereal grains for disease prevention. The trend of continual sustenance for wheat consumption are illustrated in Table 1.