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Extension > Live Healthy, Live Well > 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans Released

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans Released

By Laura Perdue, Extension Educator — Health and Nutrition

As many of you probably know by now, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently released the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

One change you might notice is a shift in focus from food groups and nutrients to eating patterns. This change reflects recognition by the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee that people do not think in terms of food groups or single nutrients when they eat, but rather eat according to regular habits, or patterns. The change also reflects a growing body of research examining the relationship between eating patterns and health.

The latest guidelines also outline the changes Americans will need to make to move from what they are currently eating to adopting eating patterns that meet the guidelines.

Here are the five overarching guidelines:
  1. Follow a healthy eating pattern across the lifespan.
  2. Focus on variety, nutrient density, and amount.
  3. Limit calories from added sugars and saturated fats and reduce sodium intake.
  4. Shift to healthier food and beverage choices.
  5. Support healthy eating patterns for all.
Recommendations in the guidelines have far-reaching impacts. They inform the development of the nutrition education curricula used by educators across the country, including those of us in Extension; influence nutrition policy, such as the requirements for school meals; and provide health professionals with a summary of the most current scientific evidence on healthy eating.

The development of the guidelines is a lengthy process that starts with the formation of a Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. Members of the committee are nationally recognized nutrition and medical professionals. The committee is charged with reviewing the body of nutrition research and developing an advisory report every five years. After this report is released, there is an open comment period where the public can provide written or oral comments about the recommendations in the advisory report. Based on both the report and the public comments, staff at USDA and HHS write the guidelines.

Please take some time to read the 2015-2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans – Eighth Edition. You’ll learn a lot!

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