Story Provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture
USDA’s National Agricultural Library (NAL) has launched a fascinating online collection of historical diet and nutrition publications issued by the U.S. Government. The Historical Dietary Guidance Digital Collection (HDGDC) combines more than 900 documents representing over 100 years of history. Through this digital collection, users can explore the evolution of American food, diet and nutrition, reflecting the most current science of the time. This unique resource is the first of its kind to offer comprehensive online access to historical government nutrition publications.
USDA first published dietary guidance in the late 19th century to promote its scientific research in the human nutrition field. USDA chemist Wilbur O. Atwater pioneered modern nutrition and wrote the first agency food guides, which suggested minimum daily food requirements for maintaining energy. As scientists discovered vitamins, links between food and disease, and other crucial findings over the last century, USDA provided dietary information to Americans through these guides. Today, USDA and the Department of Health and Human Services publish nutrition recommendations in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans for use by Federal nutrition programs, health and nutrition professionals, and policy makers, and provide nutrition messages to consumers through the MyPlate campaign. With nutrition science continuing to be an evolving field, the Dietary Guidelines are released every five years to reflect the most current body of scientific evidence at the time. The Historical Dietary Guidance Digital Collection includes all of these publications and hundreds more.
The Historical Dietary Guidance Digital Collection is part of the National Agricultural Library Digital Collections (NALDC), an online database that provides universal access to selected publications among NAL’s holdings. As part of NALDC, this new digital resource offers rich searching, browsing and retrieval of information. Users can search the full text of nutrition education publications and dietary guidance publications and filter their results. NALDC also provides reliable, long-term access to these valuable historical materials.
The Historical Dietary Guidance Digital Collection is available online at http://nutritionhistory.nal.usda.gov. NAL is part of USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and serves as an extensive resource for agricultural information. For more information on the Historical Dietary Guidance Digital Collection, or to learn more about NAL services, please visit the NAL website.