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Dietary Guidelines Committee Discusses Protocols, Hears Public Comment

Jul 18, 2019
In its second public meeting last week, the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) heard comments from the public on the content of the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA). The DGAC also discussed protocols for reviewing scientific research and data that will be used as the basis for their recommendations.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans serve as a source of information for the public on food and nutrition. They also help health professionals and policymakers guide Americans to make healthy food and beverage choices and set science-based nutrition policy. The DGA serve as the basis for the nutrition criteria for federal nutrition programs, such as the school meal programs. The guidelines are reviewed every five years, a process managed by USDA and the Department of Health and Human Services and informed by the experts of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC).

The protocols discussed by the DGAC last week addressed which methods, research papers and data sets will be used to develop the DGAC’s conclusions on a variety of topics, including dietary patterns, beverages, nutrients of public health concern, fat and added sugars.

Milk was confirmed as one of the types of beverages that would be included in a search of nutrition studies. Additionally, flavored milk was confirmed as a component of the milk/dairy group, rather than a sugar-sweetened beverage. In the scientific review of dietary fats, both the type and source of the fat were identified as topics for review. This should allow the consideration of nutrition research regarding the health effects of milkfat.

Public comments were provided by 78 people, including doctors, nurses, dietitians, individuals and representatives of food associations, companies and health advocacy organizations. Comments were highly varied, but many urged the DGAC to recommend plant-based diets, low carbohydrate diets or whole food diets. Animal products, including processed meats, were criticized.

Numerous public comments urged the DGAC to recommend little to no dairy in the U.S. diet. Some of the reasoning behind these public comments included animal welfare, sustainability/environmental concerns, lactose intolerance and health concerns. National Milk Producers Federation and the National Dairy Council both spoke in support of continuing dairy’s strong role in the DGA. They emphasized the nutrient profile of dairy products and the contribution of dairy to the American diet. Due to the large number of commenters, IDFA was not granted a slot to testify but will plan to present oral comments at the 4th DGA meeting in Houston, Texas, to be held January 23-24, 2020.

In addition to oral comments, IDFA plans to provide written comments to the DGAC on the importance of three servings of dairy each day and the maintenance of a specific dairy group in recommended eating patterns. IDFA believes that no matter who you are, good nutrition is the foundation of health and wellness for adults and children alike—and dairy is an important part of a healthy diet. Dairy provides numerous health benefits, including better bone health, lowering the risk of type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. According to the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services, American children and adolescents over four years old are not consuming enough dairy to meet the DGA recommendations. The current DGAs are based on the prevailing and overwhelming body of research that demonstrates the nutritional benefits of dairy.

Members interested in assisting with these comments may contact Michelle Matto, IDFA’s consultant on nutrition and labeling.

Dairy Delivers