25 Years of Food Follies: 1987-2012

We're looking back at oddball food trends and nutritional nonsense. By: Jenny Everett

Koop has a fat attack
Photo: Douglas Graham/Getty

1988 | Koop has a fat attack

Distinctively bearded Surgeon General C. Everett Koop announces that America's high-fat diet is a health crisis of a magnitude comparable to smoking. This is a claim with the highest possible historical resonance, given the impact on tobacco policy and public attitudes following the landmark 1964 Surgeon General's report on smoking. And indeed the '80s become the decade of fat's worst PR. The 30%-of-calories-from-fat goal is received as conventional wisdom, and major health groups push low-fat diets. But only a few years later, another theory begins to take hold: Some fats are, in fact, health-promoting (much attention is paid to the Mediterranean diet). By 1993, we're beginning to learn that types of fat—healthy monos and polys, unhealthy sats and trans—matter more than amounts.

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