Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2015

Overview

HHS Logo USDA Logo

HHS’s Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion has the administrative leadership for the 2015 edition and is strongly supported by USDA’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion in Committee and process management, and evidence analysis functions. The Departments jointly review the Committee’s recommendations and develop and publish the revised Dietary Guidelines for Americans policy document.

Recommendations from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans are intended for Americans ages 2 years and over, including those at increased risk of chronic disease, and provide the basis for federal food and nutrition policy and education initiatives. The Dietary Guidelines encourage Americans to focus on eating a healthful diet—one that focuses on foods and beverages that help achieve and maintain a healthy weight, promote health, and prevent disease.

The first edition of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans was released in 1980. As mandated in Section 301 of the National Nutrition Monitoring and Related Research Act of 1990 (7 U.S.C. 5341), the Dietary Guidelines for Americans is reviewed, updated, and published every 5 years in a joint effort between the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Beginning with the 1985 edition, HHS and USDA have appointed a Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) consisting of nationally recognized experts in the field of nutrition and health. The charge to the Committee is to review the scientific and medical knowledge current at the time. The Committee then prepares a report for the Secretaries that provides recommendations for the next edition of the Dietary Guidelines based on their review of current literature.

Meetings

Advisory Committee Meetings

The 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) held seven public meetings over the course of its work. The final meeting of the 2015 DGAC took place on December 15, 2014. Materials for each of the Committee’s past meetings are available below, including webcast archives, presentation slides, and background documents.

Meeting 1 (June 13-14, 2013)
Meeting 1 Online Notebook

Meeting 2 (January 13-14, 2014)
Meeting 2 Online Notebook

Meeting 3 (March 14, 2014)
Meeting 3 Online Notebook

Meeting 4 (July 17-18, 2014)
Meeting 4 Online Notebook

Meeting 5 (September 16-17, 2014)
Meeting 5 Online Notebook

Meeting 6 (November 7, 2014)
Meeting 6 Online Notebook

Meeting 7 (December 15, 2014)
Meeting 7 Online Notebook

Public Oral Comment Meeting

HHS and USDA will host a public meeting in Bethesda, Maryland on Tuesday, March 24, 2015 to receive public oral comments on the “Scientific Report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee.” Those interested in providing oral comments and/or attending in person can register on or about March 9, 2015. Capacity for oral comments is limited, so participants will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. There is ample seating capacity for those who wish to attend in person. The public can also view a live webcast of the meeting on www.dietaryguidelines.gov.

Dietary Guidelines Related Resources

2015 Dietary Guidelines Timeline [PDF - 566KB]

Questions and Answers on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans

Federal Agency Resources Related to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans [PDF - 181KB]

Press Releases

2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee Submits Report to HHS and USDA

HHS and USDA announce the appointment of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee [PDF - 56 KB]

2015 Advisory Committee Related Resources

Scientific Report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee

USDA’s Nutrition Evidence Library

Charter [PDF - 32 KB]

Federal Register Notices

Availability of the “Scientific Report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee” [PDF - 181KB]

Announcement of the Fourth 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee Meeting [PDF - 179 KB]

Announcement of the Third 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee Meeting [PDF - 22 KB]

Announcement of the Second 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee Meeting and Invitation for Oral Testimony [PDF - 182KB] (Rescheduled from October.)

Announcement of the Second 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee Meeting and Invitation for Oral Testimony [PDF - 180KB] (This meeting was postponed due to government shutdown.)

Meeting of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee [PDF - 143KB]

Establishment of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee 2/5/13 [PDF - 225KB]

Announcement of Intent to Establish the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee and Solicitation of Nominations for Appointment to the Committee Membership; Amendment (To extend the solicitation period to allow additional time for nominations to be received). 11/30/12 [PDF - 179KB]

The Announcement of Intent to Establish the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee and Solicitation of Nominations for Appointment to the Committee Membership 10/26/12 [PDF - 208KB]

Questions and Answers on the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans

General Overview

Revision Process

General Overview

Q: What is the Dietary Guidelines for Americans policy?

A: The Dietary Guidelines for Americans (Dietary Guidelines) provides advice for making food and physical activity choices that promote good health, a healthy weight, and help prevent disease for Americans ages 2 years and over, including Americans at increased risk of chronic disease. The recommendations are based on a rigorous review of relevant scientific evidence that occurs through a transparent process. The Dietary Guidelines serves as the cornerstone for all federal nutrition education and program activities.

Q: Why is the Dietary Guidelines important?

A: The Dietary Guidelines forms the basis of federal nutrition policy, education, outreach, and food assistance programs used by consumers, industry, nutrition educators, and health professionals. All federal dietary guidance for the public is required to be consistent with the Dietary Guidelines, which provides scientific basis for the government to speak in a consistent and uniform manner. The Dietary Guidelines is used in the development of print and web-based educational materials, messages, tools, and programs to communicate healthy eating and physical activity information to the public.

Q: Why does the government create the Dietary Guidelines and when is it updated?

A: The Dietary Guidelines is congressionally mandated under the 1990 National Nutrition Monitoring and Related Research Act (Public Law 101-445, Section 301[7 U.S.C. 5341], Title III). This law requires that the Dietary Guidelines are based on the preponderance of current scientific and medical knowledge, and released by the Secretaries of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) every five years. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010 is the current federal nutrition policy document. The process for revising the policy for 2015 is currently underway.

Q: How is the Dietary Guidelines policy communicated?

A: The Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010 is the current federal nutrition policy document. The policy document is available online at www.DietaryGuidelines.gov. Federal agencies, regional and state offices, food assistance programs, food and health organizations, and industry partners, as well as local community educators and advocates communicate messages and implement guidance based on the latest Dietary Guidelines. Resources to help communicate the Dietary Guidelines, including consumer messages, tools, and educational materials, are available at www.ChooseMyPlate.gov, www.DietaryGuidelines.gov, and www.health.gov.

Q: Why is the Dietary Guidelines policy only for ages 2 years and older?

A: Early editions of the Dietary Guidelines acknowledged the unique nutritional needs and eating patterns of infants and toddlers from birth to 24 months of age, which vary widely based on the developmental stages of this age group. For this reason, the Dietary Guidelines has traditionally focused on adults and children 2 years of age and older. However, a separate effort is underway to begin reviewing evidence on nutrition-related topics for Americans from birth to 24 months of age as well as women who are pregnant. This effort will inform the development of dietary guidance for this important age group. Beginning in 2020, the Dietary Guidelines will address Americans of all ages, starting from birth.

Q: How is the Dietary Guidelines policy implemented and which federal programs are impacted?

A: Agencies within HHS and USDA use the information in the Dietary Guidelines to align programs and initiatives with current Dietary Guidelines recommendations. Nutrition education is central to many of these efforts, which aim to provide the most accurate and up-to-date dietary information, nutrition advice, food resource management, and food safety practices.

Revision Process

Q: What is the process for creating the next edition of the Dietary Guidelines?

A: In the first stage of the revision process, a Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (Committee) is chartered following Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) guidelines. The Committee is composed of nationally recognized experts in the field of human nutrition, medicine, and public health.

The Committee considers the current Dietary Guidelines for Americans and determines topics for which new scientific evidence is available that may inform revisions to existing recommendations or suggest new guidance. The Committee examines the state of scientific evidence using systematic reviews, data analyses, scientific evidence-based reports, and/or food pattern modeling analyses. Additional sources of information include input from expert guest speakers as well as oral and written comments from the public. At the completion of its work, each Committee submits an Advisory Report of its recommendations with rationales to HHS and USDA Secretaries for consideration as the Departments jointly develop the next edition of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

During the second stage of the revision process, the HHS and USDA develop the Dietary Guidelines for Americans policy document. The Dietary Guidelines is based on the Committee’s Advisory Report, public comments, and federal agency input.

Q: How is the Dietary Guidelines revision process managed?

A: The Dietary Guidelines is jointly developed and published by HHS and USDA every five years. Each five-year cycle, the administrative lead rotates between the Departments. HHS’s Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (ODPHP) leads the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2015 development process, which it carries out in partnership with USDA.

Similarly, each Committee’s process is overseen by four Co-Executive Secretaries, two from HHS’s ODPHP and two from USDA, one from the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP), who serves as the lead for USDA, and the other from the Agricultural Research Service (ARS). The Co-Executive Secretaries manage the activities of the Committee and coordinate and lead the federal staff supporting the Committee’s work.

Q: Where can people find information about the Dietary Guidelines revision process?

A: The website www.DietaryGuidelines.gov serves as the clearinghouse for information related to Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2015 development process and the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee’s work. Written public comments, public meeting information, background materials, and other public materials related to the Dietary Guidelines process are posted in this central location.

Q: How were members of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee selected?

A: Public nominations to the Committee were sought in the fall of 2012 in the Federal Register announcement for the establishment of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. Expertise was sought in specific specialty areas including cardiovascular disease; type 2 diabetes; overweight and obesity; osteoporosis; cancer; pediatrics; gerontology; maternal/gestational nutrition; epidemiology; general medicine; energy balance, which includes physical activity; nutrient bioavailability; nutrition biochemistry and physiology; food processing science, safety, and technology; public health; nutrition education and behavior change; and/or nutrition-related systematic review methodology.

Former members of the 2015 Committee were non-federal employees who were classified as special government employees (SGEs) for the duration of their appointments. The Committee selection process provides a balanced and diverse membership, representing various ethnicities, ages, genders, and regions of the country to the extent possible. Information about the former 2015 Committee members is available on www.DietaryGuidelines.gov.

Q: How did the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee review current evidence?

A: In addition to other resources, the 2015 Committee used the Nutrition Evidence Library (NEL) established by the USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion to support its systematic review of the current science on nutrition and health. The NEL specializes in conducting systematic reviews to inform Federal nutrition policies and programs. More information on the NEL is available at www.NEL.gov.

Q: What is a Nutrition Evidence Library (NEL) systematic review?

A: The NEL systematic review methodology is designed to objectively review, evaluate, and synthesize research to answer important nutrition and health-related questions. NEL uses a six-step approach designed to minimize bias and ensure transparency and reproducibility of the process: 1) Develop research questions, 2) create and implement literature search and sort protocols, 3) develop evidence portfolios (summaries of research findings), 4) synthesize the bodies of evidence, 5) develop conclusion statements and grade the evidence, and 6) describe research recommendations. Complete evidence portfolios from the 2010 and 2015 Committees are posted at www.NEL.gov.

Q: Why did the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee use a systematic review methodology?

A: Systematic review is considered the state-of-the-art method for objectively synthesizing research findings to support practice, guideline, and policy recommendations. The transparent systematic review method used by the USDA Nutrition Evidence Library (NEL) ensures government compliance with the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2001 (Data Quality Act), which mandates that federal agencies ensure the quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity of the information used to form federal guidance. NEL systematic reviews were a hallmark of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines revision process and were instrumental in the 2015 Committee process as well.

Q: In addition to the NEL systematic reviews, why did the 2015 Committee use existing reports?

A: The 2015 Committee addressed some questions using existing reports, including reports from national professional organizations such as the Institute of Medicine (IOM), the American Heart Association (AHA), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and international organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). The Committee also used reports from government agencies. These reports summarize the most current and comprehensive evidence and have been written by a panel of recognized experts in the field. The expert reports specifically address the respective questions and, generally, represent a collective expertise on the topic beyond what was represented on the Committee.

Q: Can the public attend meetings of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee?

A: The Committee held a series of public meetings to review and discuss the scientific evidence to support recommendations. All meetings of the Committee were open to the public through webcast technology; the first two meetings also allowed attendance in person. Meeting dates, times, locations, and other relevant information were announced at least 15 days in advance of each meeting via Federal Register notice. Notices can be accessed directly at http://www.gpoaccess.gov/fr/. Registration and meeting announcements were posted at www.DietaryGuidelines.gov. Summaries and archived webcast recordings of each meeting are also available at www.DietaryGuidelines.gov.

Q: Did the public have opportunities to give input to the Committee during its work?

A: The public was encouraged to submit written comments throughout the Committee’s deliberations. Information on submitting public comments was provided in Federal Register notices and public comments were accepted electronically at www.DietaryGuidelines.gov. All comments were provided to the members of the Committee and are available for viewing at www.DietaryGuidelines.gov. Opportunity for public oral testimony was provided at the second Committee meeting.

Q: Why were meetings of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee aired by webcast?

A: Webcasting provides accessibility and transparency to viewers nationally as well as internationally. During the 2010 Committee process, meetings were transitioned from in-person only attendance to webcasts only. Webcasts increased access to Committee deliberations to a much larger audience, including attendees from 15 countries. Participants such as students and staff of local health departments, who normally would not be able to travel to the metropolitan Washington, D.C. area, were able to observe the webcasts. This eliminated travel time and cost to the public. Attendance for 2010 webcast meetings averaged more than 400 attendees or sites, almost double the participation for 2010 meetings with in-person only attendance. To continue to increase transparency and reach of the process to stakeholders, 2015 Committee meetings were also webcast for live viewing, and recordings of the webcasts are available at www.DietaryGuidelines.gov.

Q: How do the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee Report and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans policy relate to each other?

A: The Scientific Report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee is advisory only. This report presents the recommendations of the independent 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee to the Secretaries of HHS and USDA for use in updating the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The Advisory Report is written for the federal government as the basis for developing the Dietary Guidelines for Americans policy. Comments from federal agencies and the public are considered in the development of the Dietary Guidelines. The Dietary Guidelines is intended for policymakers, nutrition educators, and health professionals in developing nutrition policy, nutrition education messages, and consumer materials for the general public and for specific audiences, such as children, pregnant women, and older Americans.

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