USDA-HHS Should Put Warning Label on 2020-2025 Dietary GuidelinesThu, 12 Nov 2020 08:43:54 CST
The Nutrition Coalition, a group that aims to bring rigorous science to nutrition policy, is calling upon the Departments of Agriculture (USDA) and Health and Human Services (HHS), the agencies that jointly oversee the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA), to put a warning label on the 2020-2025 DGA to ensure that the public is aware that these recommendations are only for healthy Americans.
Many people understand that a diet for a healthy person is not the same as a diet for someone whose metabolism has tipped into ill-health. The DGA’s guidance to consume 6 servings of grains per day, including 3 servings of refined grains, plus up to 10% of calories as sugar, cannot be tolerated by a person with diabetes, for example. Unhealthy Americans need to know that the Guidelines may be inappropriate advice for their conditions.
Chronic diseases are the leading cause of death and disability in the U.S., costing $3.5 trillion annually. Obesity alone accounts for nearly 21% of all annual medical spending in the U.S.
People with these diseases urgently need to receive dietary advice appropriate for their conditions.
“Americans should be warned that our government’s nutrition policy does not apply to the majority of the population. With the next iteration of the Guidelines, we are asking the USDA-HHS to include a prominent warning label on the 2020-2025 DGA to make clear to the public that these recommendations are “For Healthy Americans Only” and are not necessarily appropriate for people with diet-related, chronic diseases,” stated Nina Teicholz, executive director of the Nutrition Coalition. “This will provide Americans with the transparency they need to guide their decisions about dietary choices and whether to follow the DGA.”
The Nutrition Coalition is also urging the USDA-HHS to include dietary options that are appropriate for the range of disease conditions found in the groups receiving meals from the USDA Nutrition Assistance Programs, since a high proportion of these populations have diet-related diseases.
The DGA is used to determine food selections for the roughly $100 billion in USDA Nutrition Assistance Programs, mostly delivered to populations in need. These groups suffer from particularly high incidences of diet-related diseases. For example, 49.6% of African Americans and 44.8% of Hispanics/Latinx have obesity, along with higher rates of hypertension and type 2 diabetes. However, when relying on food from the USDA, these populations are receiving a diet designed for healthy people, which is a mismatch for many people in these programs.
The guidelines exert extraordinary influence on American eating habits, driving the advice dispensed to each and every American from doctors, nutritionists, dieticians and other health professionals who shape public thinking about what constitutes a healthy diet. For patients suffering from obesity, diabetes, dementia, high blood pressure or more, professionals provide the government’s one-size-fits-all diet, designed exclusively for healthy people.
“Even though the DGA does not apply to the majority of Americans, the policy is still applied as if it is the gold standard for all people. It’s important for the USDA-HHS to be transparent about the Guidelines and fully inform Americans of its true scope,” added Teicholz.
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