The US government outlined new dietary guidelines yesterday (7 October) that will inform both health care professionals, consumers and – significantly -policy decision making over the next five years. 

The response has – predictably – been mixed. Health campaigners and lobbyists have praised the government’s findings. Food sector lobbyists were pleased that the guidelines watered down prior discussions, particularly on issues such as taxation and sustainability. 

Various sectors of the food industry – from canned food makers to seafood and dairy groups – have rallied behind the call for consumers to eat more of certain types of food by describing how their categories can provide appealing solutions. Egg processors were particularly pleased to see a change in tone with regards to cholesterol intake. 

However, the recommendations were not roundly welcomed in all quarters. The guidelines, issued by the US Agriculture and Health and Human Services departments, say less than 10% of daily calories should come from “added sugars” and less than 10% should come from saturated fats. They also recommend that adults limit their sodium intake to 2,300 milligrams a day. These suggestions received a somewhat cooler reception. 

“GMA raised concerns that the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee’s recommendations on sustainable food and taxation were outside the committee’s expertise and commends USDA and HHS for not including these provisions in the final guidelines. We look forward to closely reviewing the details of the guidelines to see how the topics of sugars, sodium, lean/processed meats, and caffeine are addressed.  GMA had expressed earlier concerns that the advisory committee’s recommendations in these areas were not based on the best available science.” – Grocery Manufacturers Association chief science officer Dr. Leon Bruner

“For too long the guidelines on what to eat were not driven by the best science. We are particularly pleased to see the recommendation limiting the amount of added sugars in our diet to no more than 10% of daily calories. Already, one in seven calories consumed by youth are from added sugars in products like soda and sports drinks.  The impact has been particularly harmful in Hispanic and African American communities that are the subject of intense marketing.” – Dr. Jane Delgado, president and CEO of the National Alliance for Hispanic Health

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“The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines provide crucial science-based information for health professionals to use in helping consumers make healthy choices for themselves and their families. They will provide a solid basis for federal nutrition policy, identify future research needs and equip health professionals and employers with the tools necessary to benefit the public. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans represent the US government’s cornerstone for nutrition policy and education for the next five years.” – Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics president Dr. Evelyn F. Crayton

“The removal of a daily dietary cholesterol limit and inclusion of eggs within all recommended healthy eating patterns supports regular consumption of eggs along with other nutrient-rich whole foods such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains. As an affordable, nutrient-rich source of high-quality protein, eggs can help Americans build healthful diets” – Egg Nutrition Center

“While most Americans eat an adequate amount of total protein foods, nearly all eat far too little seafood… At a time when Americans are told to limit so many foods including popular proteins, seafood is among the handful of foods Americans are encouraged to eat more often. An underlying premise of the Dietary Guidelines is that nutritional needs should be met primarily from foods. All forms of foods, including fresh, canned, dried and frozen, can be included in healthy eating patterns” – National Fisheries Institute 

“The health benefits of eating a diet rich in seafood are unequivocal, and Americans, regardless of age or gender, are not hitting the recommended intake of seafood. People who consume a seafood-rich diet have lower rates of heart disease and high blood pressure, reduced risk of obesity and there is growing evidence of the positive effect of DHA Omega-3 fatty acids found in seafood on cognitive development and maintenance” – Laura Ali, registered dietitian nutritionist at Dongwon Industries-owned StarKist

“We know that great flavor is the key to consistently making healthy choices. That’s where spices and herbs can help. By learning to prepare foods with spices and herbs, people can meet dietary guidelines for sodium without sacrificing taste. We offer more than 450 salt-free and reduced sodium products in the U.S. to help people do just that.” – Alan Wilson, McCormick chairman and chief executive officer

“Many US children and adults fall short of meeting the recommendations set forth in the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Canned foods often provide needed nutrients at a lower cost than fresh, frozen or dried forms, particularly when price, waste and time to prepare are considered” – Canned Food Alliance (CFA) 

“The vast majority of Americans are not getting the recommended three servings of dairy per day. Adding one low-fat or non-fat yoghurt every day to their eating plan is a simple, convenient way for Americans to increase dairy intake…. The 2015 DGAs also call for Americans to reduce their intake of sugar from all sources, and we have been working to reduce sugar throughout our portfolio. And while we appreciate that the new policy document acknowledges industry’s efforts to better align products with federal dietary guidance, we agree that our work is not finished. We are constantly innovating to develop new solutions that will help us further improve the nutritional profile of our products” – Danone

“Everyone recognises it is important for Americans to eat healthy diets within caloric needs but strong scientific evidence should support all dietary recommendations. Therefore, the Sugar Association is disappointed that despite a lack of scientific evidence, the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend an intake limit or target for added sugars of no more than 10% of daily calories. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans are too important not to get them right…. We maintain these added sugars recommendations will not withstand the scrutiny of a quality, impartial evaluation of the full body of scientific evidence. As with past examples of dietary guidance not based on strong scientific evidence, such as eggs, the added sugars guidance will eventually be reversed. The lack of scientific rigour in this process has and will continue to result in consumer apathy, distrust and confusion” – Sugar Association