USDA and HHS Release 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines

Dec. 29, 2020
Very few changes from 2015 report; sugar and alcohol intakes unchanged.

The 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, released today (Dec. 29), provoked little pushback despite an advisory committee's earlier recommendations to reduce sugar and alcohol intake. Bottom line for food & beverage processors is few if any changes need to be made to current product formulations.

USDA and the Dept. of Health and Human Services (HHS), parent of the FDA, are charged with updating the guidelines every five years, providing science-based recommendations to foster healthy dietary patterns for Americans of all ages – from birth through older adults.

This edition for the first time includes recommended healthy dietary patterns for infants and toddlers, as well as for pregnant and lactating women. But those were the only major changes from the 2015 guidelines.

After concluding a year of public hearings and research, the non-governmental Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, which reviews the previous science and suggests changes to USDA and HHS, this summer recommended lowering sugar consumption to 6% of total calories in a day, from the past suggestion of 10%, and reducing acceptable alcohol intake to one drink per day for both men and women (the previous guidance for men was two drinks).

But "there was not a preponderance of evidence in the material the committee reviewed to support [those] specific changes, as required by law," USDA's press release said. "As in previous editions, limited intake of these two food components is encouraged."

Despite that, wording suggests reducing added sugars – a consideration brought to the fore in the 2015 guidelines – and increasing fiber, which remains a "nutrient of concern," as most Americans are only getting about half the amount of fiber they should get.

"Today’s release provides the public with the most up-to-date evidence on dietary behaviors that promote health and may help prevent chronic disease," USDA's press release continued. "Steeped in scientific evidence, the key recommendations look similar to those of the past…."

The current release's catch-phrase is “Make Every Bite Count.”

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