“Eat more fruits and vegetables.”
“Choose a variety of protein foods like lean meat and poultry, eggs, beans, peas and unsalted nuts and seeds.”
“Make at least half your grains whole grains.”
“Reduce Sodium intake to 2300 mg.”
These are just some of the nutrition recommendations that are the foundation of our current Federal nutrition guidance and policy. The process to review the science that supports these recommendations is currently underway.
Every five years, the Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services are required* to jointly develop and publish the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which form the basis of Federal nutrition policy. The next edition is scheduled to be released in 2015. To ensure that the Dietary Guidelines are based on the most up-to-date scientific and medical knowledge, the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (governed by the Federal Advisory Committee Act) has been established to review the current policy and advise the government. This advice comes in the form of a Federal Advisory Committee Report, which includes evidenced-based recommendations and rationales. Officials within USDA and HHS utilize this report, along with comments from the public and other Federal Agencies to develop the updated Dietary Guidelines for Americans, policy document. In short, while the work of the DGAC is instrumental to the revision process, it is also solely advisory in nature.
The 2015 Committee includes 14 external expert advisors. These individuals are highly respected by their peers in the nutrition community for their scientific knowledge on how nutrition promotes health and reduces risk of disease, including overweight and obesity. Just like the American public, the membership of the 2015 DGAC is diverse, representing a range of expertise, ethnicities, ages, gender and regions of the country. This diversity is important, given that the work of this Advisory Committee impacts all Americans.
So far, the 2015 Committee has held three successful public meetings. During these meetings the DGAC provides updates on work that is being conducted by its various Subcommittees. From the meeting proceedings, it is clear that the 2015 DGAC is covering a wide array of topics, including current status and trends as it relates to the nutrient adequacy of the American diet, dietary patterns and health outcomes, the role of sedentary behavior on dietary intake and weight status, the role of the food environment on access to healthy and affordable food, and the effect of caffeine on various health outcomes, just to name a few.
Additional meetings will be held throughout 2014, and until its Advisory Committee Report is released later this year, we won’t know what the Committee’s final recommendations will be. While the DGAC is deliberating we encourage all Americans to get involved. You can provide your thoughts about nutrition and health in the form of public comments or watch the proceedings of the DGAC via webcast.
*The DGA is congressionally mandated under the 1990 National Nutrition Monitoring and Related Research Act (Public Law 101-445, Section 301[7 U.S.C. 5341], Title III).