New dietary guidelines issued for Americans

January 3, 2021 in Healthy Eating, Nutrition Topics in the News

New dietary guidelines issued for Americans

The U.S. government issued new dietary guidelines on December 29, 2020 that advise Americans to reduce their consumption of sugar and saturated fat to less than 10 percent each of daily calories.

The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGAs), issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, also advise people aged 14 and younger to consume less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day.

The guidelines are updated every five years. The latest iteration of DGAs provide the most up-to-date evidence on eating habits that meet nutrient needs, reduce obesity and prevent chronic diseases like Type 2 diabetes, hypertension and heart disease.

Added sugars, alcohol guidelines remain unchanged

The updated recommendations look similar to those of the past and address two topics that garnered much attention throughout the development of the guidelines – added sugars and alcoholic beverages. DGAs 2020-2025 recommends limiting these dietary components, but did not include changes to quantitative recommendations.

The government rejected the DGAs scientific advisory group's advice, made public in July 2020, that people further reduce their added sugar and alcohol intake as part of the 2020 guidelines. The expert panel had advised that men should keep alcohol at just one drink a day (versus two) and that added sugars be reduced from 10% of daily calories to less than six.

Guidelines for infant nutrition included

For the first time, the DGAs included recommendations for birth to two years. The guidelines for children emphasize that there should be no added sugar in their diets before the age of two, and that children consume only breast milk (or iron-fortified formula) for the first six months of their lives.

The 2020-2025 DGAs also recommend that infants and young children are introduced to potentially allergenic foods including egg, peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish and soy products at meals. The guidelines note that "introducing peanut-containing foods in the first year reduces the risk" of developing a peanut allergy later on.

Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025

The four key guidelines encourage Americans to “Make Every Bite Count” by:

  • Following a healthy dietary pattern at every life stage.
  • Customizing and enjoying nutrient-dense food and beverage choices to reflect personal preferences, cultural traditions, and budgetary considerations.
  • Focusing on meeting food group needs with nutrient-dense foods and beverages from five food groups – vegetables, fruits, grains, dairy and fortified soy alternatives, and proteins – and staying within calorie limits.
  • Limiting foods and beverages higher in added sugars, saturated fat, and sodium, and limiting alcoholic beverages. Specifically:
    • Limiting added sugars to less than 10% of calories per day for ages 2 and older and to avoid added sugars for infants and toddlers.
    • Limiting saturated fat to less than 10% of calories per day starting at age 2.
    • Limiting sodium intake to less than 2,300 mg per day (or even less if younger than 14).
    • Limiting alcoholic beverages (if consumed) to two drinks or less a day for men and one drink or less a day for women. (One standard drink is 5 ounces of wine, 1.5 ounces of spirits or 12 ounces of 5% beer.)

Learn more about the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans and how to apply them to your diet.

All research on this web site is the property of Leslie Beck Nutrition Consulting Inc. and is protected by copyright. Keep in mind that research on these matters continues daily and is subject to change. The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle practices.