A DIET HISTORY TIMELINE
1825 A French lawyer named Brillant-Savarin said in a publication entitled The Physiology of Taste: “More or less rigid abstinence from everything that is starchy or floury” is a cure for obesity.
1830 Sugar consumption, mainly as molasses) had increased in the U.S. to 15 pounds per capita.
1863 William Banting lost 65 pounds on a high fat, carbohydrate restricted diet and subsequently published, Letter on Corpulence, Addressed to the Public. He based his success on the advice of his physician, Dr. William Harvey.
1900 Lillian Russell, a stage actress and singer born in 1861. was repeatedly mentioned known as one of the most beautiful women on the American stage.” At the peak of her fame, Russel weighed approximately 200 pounds and was celebrated for her curvaceous figure. She was described ” a particularly robust and healthy creature, who takes good care to remain so.” By today’s standards, her weight would be classified as “obese”.
1911 Proctor and Gamble introduced Crisco – a highly hydrogenated vegetable fat and cheap alternative to lard – the primary cooking fat at the time. The advantage to the manufacturer and the cook was a longer shelf life but provided a multitude of hundreds of pounds of unhealthy trans fatty acids. Now trans fats are banned.
1913 The twenty-seventh President of the United States, William Howard Taft reportedly was stuck in the White House bathtub due to his massive girth.
1918 Lulu Hunt Peters, an American doctor wrote the first known diet book, Diet and Health with a Key to the Calories. It was a best seller with over 2 million copies sold. She was the first to mention that cutting calories was an effective weight-watching tool. Her success was more than likely prompted by the new body image of women as being slender, or “thin was in”.
1920 Sugar consumption reaches 100 pounds per capita in the U.S.1930 Margarine consumption reaches 2.6 pounds per capita.
1934 A blood test for cholesterol was developed.
1937 – The Debate Begins (aka What’s going on here?) Columbia University biochemists David Rittenberg & Rudolph Schoenheimer demonstrated that dietary cholesterol had little or no influence on blood cholesterol. This scientific fact has never been refuted.
“Cholesterol in food has no affect on cholesterol in blood and we’ve known that all along.” These are the words of Professor Ancel Keys, American Heart Association board member and author of The Seven Countries Study who, in retirement, recanted the idea that dietary cholesterol raises blood levels. His recant has been greeted with silence. Keys studied 22 countries, but chose data from only seven. He also excluded France with high fat and low rates of heart disease. Due to this, his observational study was considered to be flawed.
1950 – 1955 Dietary emphasis on fats and cholesterol in the diet became a hot topic based on Ancel Key’s flawed study.
1955 – President Dwight Eisenhower had a heart attack. His twice-daily press conferences focused on his cholesterol levels and he was put on a low fat diet by his physician, Dr. Paul Dudley White. Dietary fat also became the villain for weight gain.
1957 Margarine outsold butter for the first time – more trans fat and an increase in omega-6 fats shown to be inflammatory to the body tissues.
1961 Let the Diet Books Begin. Calories Don’t Count was published by Dr. Herman Taller. The low-calorie diet is a humbug, he declared. He was also a dieter whose weight ballooned up to 265 lb. on a 5-ft. 10-in. frame. Taller recommended a high-fat diet supplemented by polyunsaturated safflower oil capsules high in omega-6 linoleic acid. Back in the 1960’s vegetable fats were new and everyone wanted them to be a new health food. This has not been supported in the last 50 years of research. The American Heart Association adopted the well-known low-fat diet that began an era of fat maligning and the glorification of low fat foods. Dieters began to count fat grams daily. However, during our national experiment with a low-fat diet, people continued to pile on the pounds every decade.
1978 High fructose corn syrup enters the sweetener market. By 1985, 50 percent of the this sweetener was consumed in America.
1980 -1990 Obesity levels had remained between 12-14 percent from 1960 to 1980. After 1980 and then again in 1990, obesity grew dramatically until today when every state has obesity rates over 25 percent. Type 2 diabetes is now reported to have a 1 in 3 lifetime risk.
1992 The Food Guide Pyramid was introduced, recommending 6-11 servings of breads, cereals, rice, or pasta a day without mentioning whole grain options.
2000 Soybean oil has 70 percent of the edible fat market in the U.S. Lard consumption is less than 1 pound. Sugar cons0umption in the U.S. 150 pounds per capita. Butter consumption is less than 4 pounds per capita
2004 After 50 years of Egg-beaters, low fat cheese, margarine, skinless chicken breasts, and highly processed soy and canola oils, two Food Guide Pyramids and 11 releases of the USDA Dietary Guidelines, one third of Americans are obese; 25 percent are diabetic or pre-diabetic.
2008 Sugar consumption is now 160 pounds per capita. Compare that to the 15 pounds per capita in 1830.
2011 No More Pyramids A simplified MyPlate is introduced as the latest attempt at Food Guides. My Plate recommended 30% of the plate as grains, 30% vegetables, 20% fruit and 20% protein. A small circle represents dairy.
2015-16 The 2015 Dietary Guidelines were presented with little changes based on the latest research. Here is what they said and what they should have said.This is a big change For the first time, our national health authorities are urging Americans to limit sugar to no more than 10% of daily calories. In a 2,000-calorie diet, 10% is 200 calories—the equivalent of about 12½ teaspoons of sugar. Yet we average 20 teaspoons a day. Based on scientific evidence that’s been accumulating for decades, dietary cholesterol (as opposed to blood cholesterol) just isn’t any concern anymore. For the first time, there is no limit on total fat. However, the advice to limit saturated fat is still in there—even though the evidence that saturated fat leads to heart disease has turned out to be pretty weak. An original report associated with the new guidelines called for cutting back on red meat, especially processed meat, but the final official guidelines due to the lobbying of the meat industry wanted its message weakened.
2010-2020 The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published a landmark report that has turned current fat recommendations upside down. The verdict from the study is that “there is no significant evidence for concluding that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk for heart disease. ’Over the same period, the use of drugs to treat high blood pressure and high cholesterol increased quite a bit. Meat consumption has been declining for the past few decades..
In the last decade the prevalence of Type 2 diabetes has increased by almost a percentage point. Over the same period, obesity has increased by three percentage points. If that trend continues, heart disease rates may again rise. Unless we have been infected by a yet to be discovered obesity virus, we have a national eating disorder that needs to be fixed.
Big food has made quite a mess of our food supply. Is saturated fat the culprit it was made out to be? Can excess refined vegetable oils, sugar or fructose be blamed?
Will our food culture ever be able to return to a diet of whole, real foods to replace the refined, processed, chemical-laden foods forced upon us by the food industry? The debate continues and we will see what trends are coming with the advent of the new Dietary Guidelines due in 2020. We should also hope that these guidelines are not encumbered by the influences of the food industry – but don’t count on it.