Here’s how you can help shape food policy

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Here’s how you can help shape food policy

If you find yourself wondering why certain nutrients (such as potassium) are mandatory for food and supplement product labels, or how 2,300 mg became the recommended daily intake for sodium, you may be interested in the Dietary Guidelines for America and, specifically, the Advisory Committee meetings, which start this month.

So much of what we understand about healthy eating stems from food policy and nutrition recommendations shaped at the federal level, which are in turn built on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGAs) — a joint effort by USDA and the Department for Health and Human Services (HHS). Federal food programs (such as WIC and the school lunch program), dietary guidance publications, healthy-eating recommendations (such as MyPlate), and even the percent Daily Values you see on nutrition labels must align with the DGAs.

To come up with these guidelines, a panel of nutrition and health experts — the Advisory Committee — convenes to review and discuss the latest in nutrition and medical science. This year, the public can attend the meetings, either online or in person, and will be able to submit comments on the Advisory Report.

The Advisory Committee evaluates the evidence, considers comments, and presents Americans with an updated set of guidelines.

One example of the real-world implications of the DGAs is the inclusion of Added Sugars on the Nutrition Facts label, which as a result of the  2015-2020 DGAs. The Advisory Committee determined that Americans were still overconsuming Added Sugars, and the FDA used this information in their update of the Nutrition Facts labels.

It looks like, however, the Added Sugars question is still not resolved. It’s among the topics that will be discussed during the series of meetings, which also include:

  • The relationship between eating patterns and overall health/disease prevention at each life state
  • A greater understanding of Dietary Fats
  • How beverage consumption affects nutrient intake
  • The relationship between eating frequency and health

The DGAs are reviewed and released every five years for the following 5-year cycle. The current meetings are expected to last into 2020.

The first meetings of the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee are March 28,  9 a.m.-4:30 p.m., and March 29, 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m. (Register to attend the webinar here.)

Comments may be submitted on the web site or mailed to Kristin Koegel, USDA Food and Nutrition Service, Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, 3101 Park Center Drive, Room 1034, Alexandria VA 22302. All comments must include the agency name and Docket FNS-2019-0001.

For more information on the DGA process, visit