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Dietary Guidelines Committee Reviews Nutrition Evidence

Nov 09, 2009

The 2010 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee met for a fourth time last week as part of its ongoing review of the nutritional guidelines that recommend what Americans should eat to stay healthy and combat obesity. At this meeting, committee subgroups reported their progress in reviewing the current scientific literature on a variety of nutritional topics. Overall, the committee reinforced its desire to tackle obesity, provide more nutrients of concern like calcium and Vitamin D, and heighten visibility for tomatoes and leafy greens.

Subgroup members used the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Nutrition Evidence Library (NEL) to answer critical nutrition questions on:

  • Nutrient adequacy and food groups;
  • Carbohydrates and protein;
  • Sodium, potassium and water;
  • Energy balance and weight management;
  • Food safety and technology;
  • Fatty acids; and
  • Ethanol (alcohol).

When they reviewed scientific studies conducted since 2004 for the milk and dairy food group, committee members graded the strength of the evidence with mixed reviews. Initially, they concluded that only moderate evidence links the consumption of milk and milk products to improved bone health in children and that results for adults are inconsistent. Later in the meeting, however, the members acknowledged the shortcomings of using the USDA NEL data, because only studies later than 2004 were considered. They agreed that studies prior to 2004 have shown positive links to milk and dairy consumption and bone health.

The committee also found that consuming milk and milk products may help to protect against high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. It also determined there is little convincing support for milk and milk products controlling either body weight or body fat.

More highlights of the meeting are available to members below.

At this time the committee has not made any conclusions on changes to the Dietary Guidelines. It will hold a final public meeting next spring before submitting its report to the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services, which have joint authority over the guidelines. Using the committee's findings, USDA and HHS will develop the new Dietary Guidelines for Americans and MyPyramid, prominent tools that are used for guiding federal nutrition programs and consumer education on nutrition.

IDFA provided written comments in January and oral testimony at the committee's February meeting. In both comments and testimony, IDFA stressed the importance of continuing to recommend at least three daily servings of fat free and low fat dairy products and of keeping milk and dairy as a food group to encourage.

For list of committee members, see "USDA and HHS Announce the Appointment of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee."

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