Public Health

Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025


The Scientific Report for the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans was published in July 2020 (Ref 1). The Scientific Report is the comprehensive document (835 pages), which precedes the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans were published on December 29th, 2020 (Ref 2). This shorter document (164 pages) is intended to be a more concise and readable summary of the recommendations. The document impact is pervasive throughout the US, as the Executive Summary confirms:

The Dietary Guidelines is designed for policymakers and nutrition and health professionals to help all individuals and their families consume a healthy, nutritionally adequate diet. The information in the Dietary Guidelines is used to develop, implement, and evaluate Federal food, nutrition, and health policies and programs. It also is the basis for Federal nutrition education materials designed for the public and for the nutrition education components of USDA and HHS nutrition programs. State and local governments, schools, the food industry, other businesses, community groups, and media also use Dietary Guidelines information to develop programs, policies, and communication for the general public.”

The Scientific Report

I reviewed the Scientific Report on July 27th, 2020 (Ref 3). In that note, I covered the history of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGAs) since they were first introduced in 1980. The first DGAs were very prescriptive with amounts recommended to the percent, gram and milligram for carbohydrate, fat, saturated fat, dietary cholesterol, sugar, and salt. The next significant changes in the DGAs came in 2005, when the 30% cap on total fat was replaced with the introduction of Acceptable Macronutrient Distribution Ranges (AMDRs). The AMDR for fat was 20-35% and this has not changed since. Since 2005, dietary/eating patterns have become increasingly prominent. The DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) was the first dietary pattern to be featured (although the famous Food Pyramid had been used as a guide until this point). Vegetarian and Mediterranean-style dietary patterns have been added since.

The new features of the 2020 Scientific Report were i) that the DGAs would cover the age group birth to 24 months for the first time and ii) guidance for pregnant and lactating women would be included.

Many things didn’t change, or changed little, in the 2020 Scientific Report. The AMDRs didn’t change. The five (vague) guidelines established in the 2015 DGAs became four slightly less vague guidelines (see below). The focus on dietary patterns, rather than individual nutrients, continued. The 10% limit on saturated fat wasn’t changed, although at least one member of the DGA committee wondered why saturated fat intake shouldn’t be zero. I wondered whether this was a result of nutritional ignorance or the fact that the majority of the committee had conflicts with global fake food organisations.

Let’s summarise the key points from the DGAs, which will determine American nutritional policy over the next five years.

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