Food lobbies, the food pyramid, and U.S. nutrition policy

Int J Health Serv. 1993;23(3):483-96. doi: 10.2190/32F2-2PFB-MEG7-8HPU.


The U.S. Department of Agriculture's 1991 withdrawal of its Eating Right Pyramid food guide in response to pressure from meat and dairy producers was only the latest in a long series of industry attempts to influence federal dietary recommendations. Such attempts began when diet-related health problems in the United States shifted in prevalence from nutrient deficiencies to chronic diseases, and dietary advice shifted from "eat more" to "eat less." The Pyramid controversy focuses attention on the conflict between federal protection of the rights of food lobbyists to act in their own self-interest, and federal responsibility to promote the nutritional health of the public. Since 1977, for example, under pressure from meat producers, federal dietary advice has evolved from "decrease consumption of meat" to "have two or three (daily) servings." Thus, this recent incident also highlights the inherent conflict of interest in the Department of Agriculture's dual mandates to promote U.S. agricultural products and to advise the public about healthy food choices.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child
  • Dairy Products / adverse effects
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Food-Processing Industry / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Health Policy / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Humans
  • Lobbying*
  • Meat / adverse effects
  • Nutrition Disorders / prevention & control*
  • Nutritional Requirements
  • Nutritional Sciences / education*
  • United States
  • United States Department of Agriculture