The 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGAs) are due to be released this December. Throughout the multi-year process to develop the DGAs, the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) and other dairy organizations and dairy companies have submitted written comments, given oral testimony, compiled appropriate scientific research and shared information with the staff at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and USDA.
Why are the DGAs important, and why are IDFA’s activities vital?
The DGAs serve as the official nutrition recommendations from the U.S. government. This means that every nutrition education message any government agency sends out to the public must align with the DGAs. These nutrition messages may be through traditional advertising or communications, in the representation of healthy eating patterns in the MyPlate graphic or in nutrition education for people participating in federal nutrition programs.
Many federal nutrition programs are also required to align with the current DGAs. This means that the foods and beverages served through the National School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program and Child and Adult Care Food Program are required to be consistent with the recommendations of the DGAs, including in ways that help boost consumption of certain foods and nutrients.
Influence on policy
Regulators, legislators and scientists also use the DGAs as the touchstone for healthy eating patterns. When new policies are written or implemented, the DGAs’ recommendations often serve as the basis for the policies or the goal for healthy eating for Americans. For example, when FDA added a declaration of added sugars to the Nutrition Facts panel, the Daily Value for added sugars was set at 50 grams, or 10% of calories in a 2,000-calorie diet. The 10% of calories level was based on recommendations from the 2015 DGAs.
While none of these shifts happens automatically when the DGAs are updated, the recommendations of the most recent DGAs will be taken into account as nutrition messages are updated, as the nutrition requirements for school meal programs are changed and as nutrition-related policies are proposed. The recommendations of the 2020-2025 DGAs will be important for dairy because they keep it as its own category and support three daily servings of dairy for Americans.
The DGAs’ recommendations have kept milk and other dairy as core components of school meals. It is important to ensure dairy has a strong role in the DGAs so it will continue to have a strong role in healthy American diets.