Final Report of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee AnnouncedJune 29, 2010
By Susan J. Matthees –
USDA and HHS have announced the availability of the final Report of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (“DGAC”). The agencies are required by law to jointly update and publish the Dietary Guidelines for Americans at least every 5 years, and the final Report, along with public comments to the Report, will be used by the agencies to draft the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
A major focus of the Report is America’s “growing” problem with weight management and the great paradox of the American diet- we are eating more than enough food, yet are not getting adequate amounts of key nutrients, such as vitamin D, calcium, and dietary fiber. The Report recommends that the Dietary Guidelines make reducing obesity a priority, explaining that the “DGAC considers the obesity epidemic to be the single greatest threat to public health in this century.”
The Report reiterates what many nutrition experts and health advocates, including Mrs. Obama, have been suggesting: Americans should shift their diets to more plant-based foods, such as legumes, seeds, nuts, whole grains, vegetables and fruit, reduce intake of foods that contain added sugar and solid fat, and increase their physical activity. The 2010 DGAC opted to discontinue the term “discretionary calorie allowance” to explain how much extra fat and sugar should be in the American diet. The 2005 DGAC used this term, but the 2010 DGAC found that although it is still a scientifically valid concept, it is difficult to communicate to consumers. Instead, the 2010 DGAC recommends using numerical limits, including a recommendation that added sugar be limited to 25% of total calorie consumption.
Weight management was not the sole focus of the Report. The Report also recommended a reduction in sodium intake to 1,500 mg per day or less, which is a decrease from the 2005 DGAC recommendation to limit sodium intake to less than 2,300 mg. The Report acknowledged that this could be difficult and thus recommends a gradual reduction in intake with a nod towards the Institute of Medicine’s ("IOM’s") recent roadmap to reduce sodium intake.
The Report also reviewed the consumption of alcohol, water, potassium, protein, and carbohydrates. The Report concluded that there was no evidence that high protein, low carbohydrate diets are better for weight loss and weight maintenance than other diets. Although there has been increased attention to the fact that many Americans are deficient in vitamin D, the DGAC opted not to conduct its own review because the IOM is currently reviewing the DRI for vitamin D. Finally, although the Report notes that most Americans are deficient in some nutrients, it states that daily supplementation with a multivitamin/multimineral “does not offer health benefits to healthy Americans.”
Interested parties are encouraged to submit written comments until July 15, 2010. Written comments can viewed on the same website. There will also be a public meeting on July 8, 2010, to solicit oral comments.