"Statement [at] Press Conference to Release 'The Surgeon General's Report on Nutrition and Health'" [Reminiscence]
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Koop, C. Everett
Reproduced with permission of C. Everett Koop.
Statement [at] Press Conference to Release 'The Surgeon General's Report on Nutrition and Health' (July 27, 1988)
Lecture July 27, 1988
Statement by C. Everett Koop, MD, ScD
Surgeon General of the U.S. Public Health Service
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Press Conference to Release the Surgeon General's Report on Nutrition and Health
July 27, 1988
This was a first! There never had been before, in the history of the Public Health Service or any other agency of the United
States government, a report on nutrition and health. This was put together by the folks at the Office of Health Promotion
and Disease Prevention with the help of a great many nutritional and health experts around the country. It was a landmark
report in the effort of the Public Health Service to improve the health of the American people. For the first time we presented
our consensus on the state
of knowledge of the link between diet and a broad range of health issues. The report particularly places emphasis on the role
of diet and prevention of chronic diseases that are leading causes of death and disability in America. It also defines ways
in which we can change our diets to reduce the risk for these diseases. And finally the report reveals clearly that the health
of Americans could be improved by changing their diet to one that contains less fat.
The report focuses on the change from our main concern about nutrition in yesteryear compared to our concern today when we
have an abundant food supply that has made it possible for folks to avoid nutritional deficiency diseases. Our problem now
is over consumption of certain dietary components especially the excess intake of dietary fat and it's relationship to
risk for chronic disease such as coronary heart disease, some types of cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, strokes, and
obesity. I discussed the preparation of the report and gave tribute to the nearly 200 who contributed to the review, then
outlined the 4 principal conclusions of this report found on page 3.
There followed implications for dietary guidance and education including the need for improved education of the public, improved
use of nutrition labels to help consumers, more and better education in nutrition for physicians and others in the health
In the area of nutrition programs and services the report's findings emphasized the importance of identification and removal
of barriers to optimal health and nutritional status among special groups in the population, the incorporation of nutrition
services into health care programs for Americans of all ages, the need for increased availability of foods and food products
that are low in fat, yet consistent with the other dietary recommendations of this report, and the need for adherence of all
food service programs to the report's recommendations.
Finally, the report's conclusions point to the need for improved surveillance of nutritional status, especially among
high-risk groups, and expanded research investigations into the relationships between dietary factors and health.
I then introduced Dr. J. Michael McGinnis, Assistant Surgeon General and Chairman of the Department's Nutrition Policy
Board to present the specific recommendations of this important report. Dr. McGinnis' statement follows my own.