"FOOD/2," the controversial and unpublished sequel to the Department of Agriculture's booklet "Food," which describes the government's dietary guidelines and suggests ways to use them, will be printed in its entirety, according to a spokesman for the American Dietetics Association (ADA). The information will, however, come out in two different booklets published simultaneously.
"Food/2," originally drafted by the Carter administration, included a section on weight control and maintenance, and another on lowering dietary fat and cholesterol, plus recipes that support each section.
The Reagan administration has equivocated about publishing the booklet. Last fall, Agriculture Secretary John Block told a meeting of the ADA that USDA would publish the information. But USDA abandoned plans to publish the booklet, saying cash was tight, and said they'd release the information to anyone who wanted to reprint it.
Consumer advocates point out that money had already been allocated to publish the book and claim that the USDA succumbed to pressure from groups representing meat, dairy and egg interests. Industry representatives have expressed reservations about giving general advice that might be interpreted as calling for dietary restrictions.
While the ADA has for months considered publishing the magazine-style booklet, some sources say the group planned to publish only the section on weight control. Consumer groups were quick to criticize the ADA for dropping the chapter about lowering cholesterol and fat in the diet. The ADA board of directors decided a few weeks ago to go ahead with separate printings of the two sections.
"The problem with separating the two," says Stephen Clapp, publications director for the Community Nutrition Institute, a consumer advocacy group, "is that it perpetuates the USDA claim that only people with special health problems need to avoid a high-fat diet." In reality, he says, the dietary guidelines were designed to apply to the general population.
Clapp also points out that with the booklet's sections being printed separately, consumers will have to pay twice for information originally contained in a single publication.
ADA president Edna Langholz says the group decided to publish the information separately because "some people are interested only in weight control," adding that weight control and fat control can be two separate problems and that consumers can become confused if the information is integrated.
She adds that marketing strategies are incomplete; no prices have been set, and no distribution plan has been worked out.
The fat and cholesterol chapter of "Food/2" describes the relationship between diet and heart disease and acknowledges that cause and effect is still debatable. For those who want to change their diet based on current knowledge, the book recommends, among other things, substituting margarine for butter and drinking lowfat milk. It suggests cutting down on egg yolk consumption and gives charts comparing the fat levels of various foods.