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Published: June 8, 2024

IIN Advocacy Update: Looking at the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Report

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2020–2025 USDA Dietary Guidelines

Although IIN takes a bio-individual approach to wellness, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Dietary Guidelines are still important to consider when aiming to achieve a healthy lifestyle. While rates of chronic disease and obesity have continued to rise, the USDA Dietary Guidelines have been revised every five years since they were first issued in 1980; the 2020–2025 version is due for release in December 2020.

Every five years, a Dietary Guidelines Committee made up of researchers and experts drafts a scientific report on dietary recommendations, which allows for a month-long public comment period. The recent Dietary Guidelines Committee is not without some controversy as several members have close ties to the food industry, which is common.

The report and public comments then get sent to the Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services (HHS). In an interview with Agri-Pulse, Sarah Reinhardt, lead food systems and health analyst for the Food and Environment Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists, explains that this is an important time to pay attention as in the past they’ve “seen some of the scientific recommendations go in and are nowhere to be found on the other side.”

The 2020 Dietary Guidelines Report and conclusions are consistent with previous guidelines, but here are some highlights of the new recommendations:

  • For the first time, the guidelines will address the nutrition of children from birth to two years of age. Until now, the guidelines only included nutritional advice for children two and over. For infants, the committee has recommended breastfeeding for at least six months and introducing high-allergen foods, such as peanuts and eggs, at 4–6 months to help prevent food allergies. Additionally, the new recommendations suggest that children under two avoid all sugar-sweetened beverages.
  • The previous set of guidelines recommended limiting the consumption of added sugars to less than 10% of total calories. On a 2,000-calorie diet, that equates to 50 grams of added sugars per day. In the new guidelines, this number may be reduced to just 6% as the committee found that added sugars on average make up 13% of our daily energy intake, largely coming from added sugar in beverages, desserts, snacks, candies, and cereals. The American Heart Association recommends women consume no more than 25 grams of added sugars per day and advises men to have less than 38 grams a day. 
  • The recommendations also advise that the amount of alcohol consumption should be one alcoholic beverage – defined as a 12-ounce bottle of beer, 5-ounce glass of wine, or 1.5-ounce shot of liquor – per day for both women and men. Previous versions of the guidelines recommended that men limit themselves to two drinks per day and women limit themselves to one.

What the USDA Dietary Guidelines Mean and How to Interpret Them

The report and public comments are simply advice. The USDA and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services have the final say in what will be included in the official 2020–2025 USDA Dietary Guidelines later this year.

There will be significant pressure from industry proponents on meat, saturated fat, alcohol, and low-carbohydrate diets in the final guidelines. This industry pressure may come right up against the reality of science and experiences of well people – eating a diet that largely ignores processed foods and highly refined carbohydrates and instead focuses on whole, unprocessed, and nourishing foods to improve personal and public health as well as prevent disease.

IIN has been involved in becoming a powerful national voice in advocating with government officials for a healthier and happier world by supporting organizations directly involved in influencing better dierary guidlines. Additionally, we’re working to make wellness a reality for all by helping make Health Coaches and their services available to more people and continuing to educate on the importance of a holistic, bio-individual approach to health.

We know how valuable Health Coaches can be in the healthcare system to help bridge the gap between doctors and patients and provide the support and resources patients need to reach their health goals. IIN is committed to the success of every graduate making a difference in their communities, and this advocacy work aims to further support our graduates in all that they do.

Darrell Rogers began his career in Washington, D.C., 20 years ago and has worked for members of Congress and several notable nonprofit organizations and political campaigns. More recently, his work has been committed to protecting and promoting holistic healthcare access. Every month, we’re sharing the notable work that Darrell is doing in Washington, D.C., to increase the visibility and recognition of Health Coaches.

June 8, 2024

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