The Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) help to establish nutrition policies in the U.S. CRA supports the DGA as a resource for federal feeding programs and nutrition education, provided the DGA are derived from sound scientific evidence. CRA supports enhancing the scientific integrity of the DGA process by establishing an evidentiary standard beyond the current preponderance of scientific evidence.
The DGA are published every five years jointly by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), with input from outside experts.
Following the publication of the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, CRA was encouraged by the recommendations made by the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) to improve and modernize the DGA process. When USDA hosted a listening session in November 2017, soon after the publication of the second NASEM report on the DGA process, CRA provided testimony that recommended USDA and HHS incorporate the NASEM recommendations into the 2020-2025 DGA process in order to strengthen the scientific integrity of the DGA process. CRA noted that incorporation of the NASEM recommendations into the DGA process would help ensure that recommendations were based on the scientific evidence and no recommendations would be made beyond the weight of the evidence. Unfortunately, USDA and HHS were unable to incorporate most of the NASEM recommendations for the 2020-2025 DGA.
We are encouraged by the Departments recognition of the need to fund reviews of the Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) for energy, protein, fat, and carbohydrates, as DRIs are a key aspect of the NASEM recommendations. In the Secretaries’ statement in the 2020-2025 DGA, they note, “The U.S. and Canadian Dietary Reference Intake Steering Committees are currently developing plans to re-examine energy, protein, fat, and carbohydrate – the timeline for these macronutrient reviews has not been established. USDA and HHS are looking forward to jointly funding the work to help guide our Departments’ research agendas in the coming years.”
CRA regards the 2020-2025 DGA as appropriate, specifically recommending restraint on consumption of added sugars, but not accepting the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) recommendation to lower added sugars consumption to less than 6% as this recommendation did not have scientific evidentiary basis nor was supported by the preponderance of evidence.
CRA remains hopeful that future iterations of the DGA will incorporate the NASEM recommendations so that any dietary recommendation is based on the totality of the scientific literature. We recommend the Biden Administration begin work in the next year for the 2025-2030 DGA to ensure the NASEM recommendations are adequately implemented.