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October 6, 1989

The Surgeon General's Report on Nutrition and Health: Summary and Recommendations

JAMA. 1989;262(13):1862. doi:10.1001/jama.1989.03430130138049

This article is only available in the PDF format. Download the PDF to view the article, as well as its associated figures and tables.


Despite its title, this is not a report on nutrition and health. It is, as Surgeon General Koop states in his introductory comments, a report "primarily on the relationship of diet to the occurrence of chronic diseases," prepared "for nutritional policymakers." One senses, especially from the statement of the authors, that the full report (700 pages) provides "a comprehensive review of the most important scientific evidence in support of current Federal nutrition policy," that it was prepared not only for, but by, policymakers.

In essence, the report is a defense of the policy of recommending foods ("dietary choices") as prescriptions for "prevention and control of certain chronic diseases" (coronary heart disease, some types of cancers, stroke, diabetes mellitus, hypertension). But, as Secretary Bowen notes in the foreword, "there are still many uncertainties about diet-disease relationships." This is borne out by frequent use in the text of phrases such as "there