Today, the new 2015 Dietary Guidelines were released, recommending Americans eat more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and varied proteins. This year’s guidelines were the subject of much controversy, including arguments over whether issues like sustainability ought to be included in strategies for how Americans eat. The brand new guidelines did not recommend limits on processed or steak.
But quarreling isn’t unusual when it comes to American diet recommendations. The rules as we know them today-released through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) every five years-started from the disagreement.
RELATED: The 50 (New) Healthiest Foods-With Recipes
In 1977, the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs, led by Senator George McGovern, recommended “Dietary Goals” for that United states citizens: consume only as much energy as you expend, eat more naturally sourced sugars, consume more fruits and vegetables and go easy on eggs and butter. The Dietary Goals received backlash from both industry and the science community over whether they were supported by enough evidence.
From that backlash emerged a choice to achieve the USDA and HHS partner. They selected scientists from both departments and created what would become the 1980 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which recommended seven methods to have a very good diet, including eating a variety of foods, avoiding an excessive amount of fat and cholesterol and reducing sugar. But once again, the development approach and the guidelines themselves were criticized.
Ultimately, the HHS and USDA were directed to form an advisory committee that will make sure outside advice could be included in future guidelines. A Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee was formed and used for the very first time in the creation of the 1985 guidelines. This time around, the advice was better received.
RELATED: The War On Delicious
Even before diet guidelines were officially released in the manner they are, federal agencies have long recommended ways for Americans to be better eaters. As TIME reported in 1964, a federal Food and Nutrition Board recommended that an American man and woman cut 300 and 200 calories out of their daily diet, respectively. “The affluent life in the U.S. of the 1960s can also be the sweet life, the fat life and also the soft life-or so the top U.S. experts have decided,” TIME wrote, adding that “the difference is the caloric content of two average martinis.”
Through time, diet recommendations within the U.S. have moved away from recommending specific nutrients and more toward food-based recommendations. The contentious guidelines released in 1977 marked a shift that focused more about avoiding foods linked to chronic disease. Recently, there has been significant debate about whether cutting out fat should continue to be an emphasis (the 2010 guidelines recommend fat-free and low-fat milk products), and whether cholesterol is still a nutrient of interest.
“Unfortunately, what’s remained consistent through the years is that Americans haven’t followed Dietary Guidelines recommendations,” representatives in the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion in the USDA told Amount of time in statement. The agency says the Healthy Eating Index (HEI) was designed to measure how closely Americans’ diets fall in line with the Dietary Guidelines, and Americans’ HEI score on a 100 point scale has been between 49 and 58 since the 1990s.
With emerging science-processed meat was recently declared carcinogenic-and bickering among industry and the science community, you can see how maintaining a healthy diet could be confusing.
The key recommendations in this year’s guidelines to consume more fruits and vegetables remains advice worth following. When it comes to rest? Do as Americans always have, and join in the quarreling.
This article originally appeared promptly.com.