The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) are now accepting public comments as they develop the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGAs).
The guidelines, updated at least every five years, establish official recommendations on healthful diets and disease prevention to policymakers and eaters alike. They are are shaped largely by an advisory committee of scientists tasked with reviewing and evaluating the current guidelines, along with new nutrition research, and reporting on their findings. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced the members of the 20-person committee in late February.
The committee is expected to address a series of questions about how different dietary patterns impact the health of American eaters, but for the first time, public feedback was solicited in order to determine what those questions should be. More than 6,000 public comments were submitted to USDA and DHHS.
And this edition will include another first. Past editions of the Dietary Guidelines have provided food and nutrition advice for Americans aged two years and older. Now, for the first time, the guidelines will be expanded to include women who are pregnant and children, from birth to two years of age.
While USDA and DHHS say public comment is essential to the committee’s review of scientific evidence as it develops the next set of guidelines—and that every comment is read—some in the scientific community have criticized past iterations of the guidelines for appearing to bow to industry influence. In 2016, experts from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health said that USDA had ignored key recommendations by the advisory committee, such as avoiding red meat and choosing an environmentally-sustainable diet.
Do you have input to share? You can do so here, and throughout the advisory committee’s review period, which runs until early 2020. Alternatively, you can participate in the committee’s first public meeting in person in Washington, D.C., or via a live-stream. Registration for either option opens on March 19.