Diet and Killer Diseases: McGovern Committee Hearings, 1976

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Many people trace the origin of the low fat diet craze to the Senate hearings of the McGovern Committee in 1979. The report of this committee endorsed the idea that a reduction in dietary fat would reduce the incidence of heart disease and obesity. The public press picked up this idea and the food industry soon began to produce a wide range of low fat and non-fat processed foods (Snackwells, etc.). The ideas endorsed by the committee report have become deeply ingrained in all aspects of dietary and medical advice. They are taught to physicians and dieticians.
This game examines the scientific evidence available in 1979 by expanding the hearings to include a larger range of voices that were invited to the actual hearing. Students will examine the scientific evidence at the time linking dietary fat to health and the Senators in the game will determine the nature of the report. Students representing the media will listen to the evidence and determine what they will report to the public.
The post-mortem of the game provides time to examine recent scientific evidence that calls both the underlying assumptions about the nature of cardiovascular disease and the role of dietary fat into question.

About the Authors:

Susan Henderson (Quinnipiac University) and David E. Henderson (Trinity College) also authored Food Fight. David Henderson is Professor Emeritus of Chemistry at Trinity College. He was one of the original users of Reacting and is author of a number of RTTP games in religion, science, and public policy.