The Trump administration has rejected an external scientific advisory committee’s recommendations that men should cut back on alcohol and that all individuals should further limit their intake of added sugars.
The latest iteration of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, jointly released Tuesday by the Agriculture Department and the Department of Health and Human Services, mirrors what the government has long urged Americans to eat: more fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean meat; less sugar, salt and saturated fat.
The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, a panel of outside experts that advises USDA and HHS, recommended in June that the guidelines should urge men to cut back on alcohol by reducing the government’s definition of “moderate drinking” from two drinks per day to one. (At the time, the panel recommended keeping the definition of moderate drinking the same for women, at one drink per day.)
Rejecting alcohol, added sugars advice: Government officials ultimately decided to not adopt the stricter alcohol recommendation, which had sparked furious pushback and lobbying from the alcohol industry.
The advisory committee had also suggested the guidelines should take a harder line against added sugars, but USDA and HHS decided to keep the Obama-era advice that individuals try to not consume more than 10 percent of their calories from added sugars. (The committee had recommended dropping the limit down even further to 6 percent).
For the first time, the guidelines explicitly include advice for infants and toddlers as well as pregnant and lactating women.
The government recommends that infants should be exclusively fed human milk until 6 months of age, when possible, and if not then fed infant formula. When infants are ready to begin adding solid foods, usually around 6 months, the government recommends that caregivers focus on nutrient dense foods to ensure babies get enough key nutrients like iron and zinc. Infants and toddlers should also avoid foods with added sugars and limit foods that are higher in sodium.
New theme: The theme for the 2020-2025 edition of the guidelines is “Make Every Bite Count,” a message that’s meant to encourage choosing nutrient dense foods and beverages, something that is particularly important for infants and toddlers.
Political context: The guidelines, which are updated every five years, have long been the subject of political fights and intense lobbying because they govern what’s served in major federal nutrition programs and heavily influence nutrition messaging for millions of Americans, though most people do not follow the government’s advice.