USDA, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES RELEASE 2020-2025 DIETARY GUIDELINES REPORT
Aug. 18, 2020
Source: Growing America sent via AgPR--the news distribution service for agriculture
In mid-July, the United States Department of Agriculture and Health and Human Services announced the first print of the Scientific Report of the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee is now available to the public online. The report is available to download, in full or in part by section or chapter.
However, unless you have your Ph.D. in Nutrition or a burning desire to scroll through 835 pages of technical & scientific jargon, chances are this isn't a document you'll be accessing regularly. Yet, chances also are, as Americans, we could use a recap on what is considered a healthy diet. As of 2018, the CDC reported America at a 42% obesity rate, so a reconsideration of our diet tendencies might be a wise step towards a healthier America.
The recently released report forms the basis of the next five years of federal dietary guidance and is authored by an advisory committee made up of 20 health experts. The committee creates the report based on an objective review of the latest available science on specific nutrition topics.
Then, the report as well as comments from the public and other federal agencies are utilized to develop the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans which provides recommendations on what to eat and drink for disease prevention and promotion of overall health. The guidelines are utilized to determine federal nutrition policies and healthy eating recommendations for the United States and are updated every 5 years.
So what was reviewed and found healthy as of 2020? While we're all holding our breath for the official guidelines to be released in December 2020, below are a few of the highlights from the most recent Scientific Report.
Eat more whole foods and less processed foods.
When it comes to dietary guidelines that haven't changed, a diet rich in fruits, legumes, nuts and seeds, vegetables, whole grains, and lean meat is still at the top of the list of recommendations. Red or processed meats, added sugars in food and drinks, and refined grains are still on the list of no-nos, or at least the list to "proceed with caution."
On the whole, Americans are not so healthy.
Shocker, huh? Yeah, not really. 60% of Americans reported a chronic disease with 40% having two or more diseases, all as a result of inadequate nutrition, lack of exercise, and too much alcohol consumption. Protein from non-animal sources, fiber, and whole grain are all under consumed among Americans. Additionally, vitamin D, calcium, potassium, and fiber are listed as nutritional deficiencies for Americans over the age of one.
Sorry men, but science says you should drink less alcohol.
Previously, dietary guidelines recommended no more than two alcoholic drinks per day for men, with one listed for women. The new report drops it down to one for each gender. There also appears to be a change in perspective on moderate alcohol consumption offering any long-term health benefits. No consumption seems to be as good or better as drinking in moderation. It seems in this case less is truly more.
Young and old, we eat too much sugar.
New recommendations suggest Americans should consume 6% or less of our total caloric intake in added sugars, dropped down from the 10% suggested in the previous guidelines. On average, Americans are currently intaking 13% of our total calories from added sugars so regardless, old or new suggestions, we're not meeting the ideal. Since we haven't decreased to 10%, perhaps lowering the suggestion to 6% will make us more likely to come close. Drinks, snacks, candy, and cereals are all considered primary culprits in the added sugars department.
Under the age of two, kids are advised to steer clear of all sugar-induced beverages (soft drinks, fruit juices, etc.). Not that we should really be drinking it after the age of two either. Ideally, fruit intake would increase in our children, while sugary beverage intake would decrease. Currently, less than 20% of kids 9 years or older meet the standard recommendation for fruit consumption and drinking sugary beverages is thought to leave less room for nutritious foods.
New considerations for moms and babies.
Evidence suggests that being breastfed at any point reduces the risk of overweight or obesity, Type 1 diabetes, and asthma as compared to never having been breastfed. For babies, an introduction of egg and peanuts (in an appropriate form) in between 4 months and 1 year is now thought to reduce the risk of potential food allergies to these foods.
It seems there's not much new under the sun when it comes to Americans' need to eat more lean meats, fruits & veggies, and whole grains while also getting more exercise. Still, perhaps there are additional changes to our diets and approach to health that we can take into consideration as we move into the next half-decade.