Academy Commends Evidence-Based 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, Notes Opportunities for Future Updates

January 15, 2021

CHICAGO – The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics commends the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for developing the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which can be customized to accommodate people of all ages and cultures and their food preferences to improve health and prevent chronic disease.

"The importance of sound nutrition has been in the spotlight this past year given the impact of many diet-related chronic diseases contributing to poor outcomes for COVID-19 patients," said registered dietitian nutritionist and Academy President Linda T. Farr. "Looking forward, the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines can play a crucial role in helping people choose a variety of nutrient-dense foods and beverages across all food groups that might help them control or avoid developing diet-related chronic diseases."

The Academy was closely engaged in each stage of the three-year process for developing the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, providing input and suggesting refinements throughout the project. The additional opportunities USDA and HHS provided during the development for public comment on research protocols and other resources, effectively enhanced the transparency and trustworthiness of the scientific review process.

"The Academy is proud of the thorough, independent scientific review conducted by our 10 Academy members and other renowned experts who served on the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee," Farr said. "We recognize the lack of available research limited the Committee’s ability to answer important scientific questions and urge Congress to provide sufficient funding to conduct the research 40 years of advisory committees have asked for."

Although the new Dietary Guidelines reflect many of the Academy’s suggestions for clarifying aspects of the Advisory Committee’s Scientific Report including reconsidering certain methodologies and reevaluating some recommendations, the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines do not include such important Academy recommendations as:

  • Considering the guidelines’ recommendations through a health equity lens 
  • Clarifying when a particular recommendation relies upon research studies that may not be generalizable to the U.S. population
  • Recognizing the connection between food, nutrition and sustainability and emphasizing the importance of sustainable food systems in the development, framing and implementation of the guidelines
  • Offering substantive, strategic recommendations tailored to health care professionals, industries, community groups, federal and state governments and others responsible for either implementing the guidelines or facilitating the public’s adoption of them.

The Academy will continue to emphasize these recommendations to federal agencies for consideration as part of the Academy's regulatory initiatives to strengthen food and nutrition programs and services.

"Overall, the expertise of registered dietitian nutritionists is evident throughout the Dietary Guidelines for Americans," Farr said.

Key recommendations of the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines focus on the dietary patterns appropriate for the various life stages, including:

  • The first federal dietary guidelines for infants and children from birth to two years old, reflecting the Academy’s substantive recommendations and suggested strategies parents can use to put them into action
  • Providing new dietary guidance tailored for older adults as part of a full lifespan approach to dietary recommendations, recognizing that the nutrition needs and dietary patterns are different for adults 19 to 59 years old and 60 and older
  • An emphasis on choosing nutrient-dense foods to meet nutritional needs without adding excess calories from added sugars, sodium or saturated fat to the dietary patterns of Americans
  • A reminder that it is never too early or too late to improve one’s eating plan and establish healthy dietary patterns. 

"Nutrition research remains the foundation on which the Dietary Guidelines are developed. The Academy outlined opportunities for strengthening the body of literature in our comments and will continue to advocate for research funding and infrastructure within federal agencies," Farr said.

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Representing more than 100,000 credentialed nutrition and dietetics practitioners, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is the world's largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. The Academy is committed to improving the nation's health and advancing the profession of dietetics through research, education and advocacy. Visit the Academy at www.eatright.org.