Government Dietary Guidelines: Uncertain Science Leads to Questionable Public Health Policy

63 Pages Posted: 12 Jul 2018

See all articles by Edward Archer

Edward Archer

University of Alabama at Birmingham

Michael L. Marlow

California State Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo

Richard A. Williams

George Mason University - Mercatus Center

Date Written: 04/20/2017

Abstract

The US Department of Agriculture has issued dietary recommendations for more than a century, and during that period the health, longevity, and nutritional status of Americans improved markedly. Before the release of the first Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) in 1980, the recommendations were based on rigorous science and simply offered general information on choosing foods and beverages to prevent deficiencies and maintain health. Yet with each subsequent version, the DGA became increasingly complex, prescriptive, and nutrient-focused (as opposed to food-based) despite an ever-increasing uncertainty and lack of credibility in the supporting evidence. This review examines the historical record of the development of the DGA and demonstrates that current recommendations were based on biased, implausible anecdotal evidence and that rigorous contrary research and the diversity of expert opinions on diet–health relationships were ignored. It concludes with an examination of the unintended negative public health consequences of founding policy on uncertain science.

Suggested Citation

Archer, Edward and Marlow, Michael L. and Williams, Richard A, Government Dietary Guidelines: Uncertain Science Leads to Questionable Public Health Policy (04/20/2017). MERCATUS WORKING PAPER, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3211651 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3211651

Edward Archer (Contact Author)

University of Alabama at Birmingham ( email )

Birmingham, AL 35294-4460
United States

Michael L. Marlow

California State Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo ( email )

San Luis Obispo, CA 93407
United States

Richard A Williams

George Mason University - Mercatus Center ( email )

3434 Washington Blvd., 4th Floor
Arlington, VA 22201
United States
703 993 4515 (Phone)

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Downloads
93
Abstract Views
651
rank
396,738
PlumX Metrics