Go ahead, have another egg for breakfast, but mind the sugar in the beverage you wash it down with. Updated once every five years, the latest version of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans has been released, and things aren’t getting any easier for food and beverage industry companies that make products high in sugar. The guidelines were formed by recommendations from the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee—composed of prestigious researchers in the fields of nutrition, health, and medicine, and by consideration of public and federal agency comments.
Though meats were feared to be in the committee’s crosshairs, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans say eating lean meat is still OK, and Americans do not have to cut back on eggs and sodium as it was earlier suggested. Sugar, particularly added sugars, received rougher treatment from the committee. A new recommendation suggests limiting added sugars to less than 10 percent of daily calories, or about 200 calories a day.
The Sugar Association says it is disappointed with the committee’s results, adding they won’t hold up to an impartial evaluation of the available scientific evidence. “The Dietary Guidelines for Americans are too important not to get them right,” the association says. “It was our hope the Secretaries of Health and Human Services and USDA would maintain the scientific integrity of the Dietary Guidelines process and reject the ‘added sugars’ recommendations in the controversial 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee report that were based on weak science of low evidentiary value.”
Other recommendations include limiting saturated fats to less than 10 percent of daily calories and keeping sodium intake under 2,300mg per day. The average American consumes roughly 3,400mg of sodium a day according to the CDC, and more than 90 percent of children and 89 percent of adults 19 and older eat too much sodium.
Despite a recent move by the World Health Organization classifying processed meats as “carcinogenic to humans” and red meat as “probably carcinogenic to humans” last year, the committee was mum when it came to placing any dietary limitation on them.
The guidelines also remove a daily limit on dietary cholesterol—300mg a day in the 2010 guidelines—noting recent research suggests cholesterol in the bloodstream is more complicated than once believed. This is good news for egg lovers as the new guidelines include eggs in recommended eating patterns.
“Protecting the health of the American public includes empowering them with the tools they need to make healthy choices in their daily lives," says Sylvia Burwell, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. “By focusing on small shifts in what we eat and drink, eating healthy becomes more manageable. The Dietary Guidelines provide science-based recommendations on food and nutrition so people can make decisions that may help keep their weight under control and prevent chronic conditions like Type 2 diabetes, hypertension and heart disease.”
The American Frozen Foods Institute praised the committee for recommending all forms of fruits and vegetables in the guidelines without limiting language. “A recent study by the Produce for Better Health Foundation found government guidelines reinforcing the healthfulness of all forms of fruits and vegetables positively impact consumers’ perceptions of packaged fruits and vegetables, which include frozen, canned, dried and 100 percent juice products,” AFFI says. “We are pleased the administration is encouraging Americans to utilize a full range of fruits and vegetables through inclusive language in the new DGAs.”
The North American Meat Institute thanked Burwell and USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack for understanding the role meat and poultry products play in healthy diets, while the Grocery Manufacturers Association says it will carefully review the guidelines to see what the committee ruled on the topics of sodium, sugar, meats and caffeine—areas where it previously expressed concern.
The nation’s dairy industry supported the guidelines, happy to see the committee noted current intakes of dairy for most Americans “are far below recommendations of the Healthy US-Style Pattern.”