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Revised USDA Food Guidelines Likely To See Few Changes

A scientific advisory committee released recommendations that will be used in revising the Dietary Guidelines.  The 835 page report authored by an advisory committee made up of 20 health experts is a review of the latest dietary and nutrition research, which USDA and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will then use to develop the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines.

Kim Galeaz, an independent registered dietitian, says the report continued to recommend the 5 basic food groups.

“That includes the fruits, vegetables, meat and protein choices, your dairy choices, and then your grain choices. “

Galeaz says moderation is the key to healthy food choices.

“If people would just look at their food choices as ‘I have these 5 nutrient food choices that I should focus on mainly but I can still make room for a treat or fun food,’ then we would all be better served,” she said. “We would eat healthier and have a more positive attitude about food.”

The one strong recommendation made by the report is that people need to cut back on sugar. But Galeaz warns that obsessing about sugar is not the right approach.

“Here again, it depends on your overall eating. It is what you are eating overall, let’s not focus on one thing like added sugars.”

A reduction on processed meats that was contained in the past revisions seems to be absent from the new  recommendations. Also, using sustainability and environmental impacts of food production as a reason for reducing consumption was also not included, something for which environmental groups has been pressing.

Another recommendation is that infants should eat peanuts, eggs, and other common allergens. Feeding peanuts, eggs, and other foods that can cause sensitivities to babies in the first year of life might lower risk of allergies in adulthood, according to the new Dietary Guidelines.

Similarly, feeding children a wide variety of “adult foods” before the age of two may positively influence their tastes and habits later in life. Furthemore, infants should not have any added sugar in the first 24 months of life.

The guidelines are used to determine the food that is allowed in school lunch and nutrition programs. Galeaz says any impact on consumer eating habits are not likely.

“Consumers are still not following what is recommended to them to stay smart and healthy and to build up their immune system that is so important right now.”

The final revised dietary guidelines are expected to be released later this year.