Academy President Provides Oral Comments on Scientific Report of 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee

August 11, 2020 – Academy President Linda T. Farr, RDN, CSOWM, LD, FAND, presented the Academy's comments August 11 to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on the Scientific Report of the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. The Academy's full written comments will be submitted August 13, thanks to expert input from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans Collaborative, think tank groups and individual members.

Good morning. I am registered dietitian nutritionist Linda Farr, President of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the world's largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. Thank you for the opportunity to offer comments today on the Scientific Report of the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee.

There are very few health initiatives as significant to policy makers and as relevant to the general public as the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The Academy strongly supports their underlying purpose — making them actionable by health care providers and the public. We also strongly support development of a comprehensive plan for the Dietary Guidelines' broad and effective implementation.

Thank you to the members of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee — which included 10 Academy members — and the staff of USDA and HHS for providing — for the first time — independent, science-based advice and recommendations for children from birth to age 2.

The Academy especially appreciates the report the Committee created, given the highly unusual circumstances dictated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Thank you as well for the open and transparent process initiated by the Departments, and the multiple opportunities for public comment that allowed for candid and constructive conversations among Committee members and public stakeholders.

In effect, we are living today in "parallel epidemics" — COVID-19 and the proliferation of obesity and other diet-related chronic diseases. These parallel epidemics underscore the need for the final Dietary Guidelines for Americans to be applicable and generalizable to most Americans. The Guidelines must help health care providers meet people where they are, recognizing the interconnected roles of cultural, racial and ethnic diversity; food insecurity; and stages of life.

We strongly agree with the Committee's strategic approach to "help individuals understand that it is never too late to start making improvements in their dietary pattern."

The Academy's comments also highlight our concerns with some specific methodologies and conclusions in the Scientific Report. And we underscore the critical need to sufficiently fund and conduct nutrition research that will address the gaps in the evidence base.

The Academy respectfully encourages the Departments to identify opportunities to address these issues and to begin the process now of developing the 2025-2030 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, using a systems approach and adopting additional recommendations of the National Academies of Medicine to build upon the work of this Committee.

Thank you again for this opportunity to be here today. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics looks forward to continuing to work with USDA and HHS to create Dietary Guidelines for Americans that serve all people and create a healthier American public.