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July 19, 1971

Prudence and Commitment

JAMA. 1971;217(3):334. doi:10.1001/jama.1971.03190030058015

Any one examining the "prudent" diet recommended by the Inter-Society Commission for Heart Disease Resources1, will agree that the fare is no gourmet's delight. Recommended for all "from cradle to grave," the diet is low calories, restricted to less than 300 mg of cholesterol a day and limited in fat to 30% of the total caloric intake—the fat to be equally divided between saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fractions.

Unlike Mosaic dietary laws which demand observance but offer no rationale, the dietary injunctions of modern health custodians explicitly appeal to reason. Perhaps therein lies their weakness. Unquestioned dogma endures, but reason is open to doubt and argument. In his St. Syres Lecture of the National Heart Hospital, Frederickson2 criticizes some of the Inter-Society Commission's recommendations. Finding the dietary constraints too sweepingly inclusive and too radical, he questions the wisdom of applying them to the entire population from infancy to