USDA Dietary Guidelines 2020 were just released. What do they mean for you?
The USDA and HHS just released the 2020-2025 dietary guidelines for Americans. They aim to offer advice on dietary patterns to promote health.

Every five years, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) release the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, a set of “science-based” guidelines offering advice on “what to eat and drink to promote health, reduce risk of chronic disease, and meet nutrient needs.”

The 2020-2025 guidelines are the first to offer guidance for healthy dietary patterns by what the departments call “life stages,” since people at different ages should be consuming different diets. The new guidelines also offer advice for pregnant and lactating women.

What is new about the USDA Dietary Guidelines?

Some experts are discouraged by what hasn’t been amended in the guidelines. The USDA Dietary Guidelines 2020 regarding alcohol and added sugar remain the same as previous years despite recommendations from a scientific committee of experts. In July, the committee said that both sugar and alcohol intake should be further limited. Specifically, experts advised that just one drink a day was best for both men and women, and that added sugars should account for less than 6% of calories.

Madelyn Fernstrom, Ph.D., NBC News contributor and diet and nutrition expert, said that those recommendations were likely not reduced because they are already low and if they are restricted too far, people may “give up” and stop trying to meet the restrictions at all.

These are the current guidelines outlined for 2020-2025:

Limiting added sugars to less than 10% of calories per day for ages 2 and older and to avoid added sugars for infants and toddlers;
• Limiting saturated fat to less than 10% of calories per day starting at age 2;
• Limiting sodium intake to less than 2,300 mg per day (or even less if younger than 14);
• Limiting alcoholic beverages (if consumed) to 2 drinks or less a day for men and 1 drink or less a day for women.

Fernstrom said that for most families, the takeaway from these guidelines should be forming healthy patterns.

“The big health messages are really the dietary pattern over time,” she said. “… It’s still the same basic messages (encouraging) whole grains, colorful fruits and vegetables, lean proteins and dairy products and a small amount of healthy fats. That message hasn’t changed, but what is changing is that it’s about balance and about dietary patterns over time, rather than a single day or single week.”

The guidelines focus on the theme of “Make Every Bite Count,” which encourages Americans and their families to make sure they’re making healthy choices at every age and choosing foods and beverages rich in nutrients at every meal.

What has been added to the guidelines?

One major change in the guidelines is around the introduction of egg and peanut products for young children: The guidelines note that “infant and young children” should be introduced to “potentially allergenic foods” like egg, peanut, tree nut, shellfish and soy products with other complementary foods.

The guidelines specifically note that “introducing peanut-containing foods in the first year reduces the risk” of later developing an allergy to peanuts, and adds that there is “no evidence that delaying” the introduction of allergenic foods can help prevent food allergy.

Diet and nutrition trends of 2020

The 2020-2025 guidelines are also the first to include specific recommendations for pregnant and lactating women, including estimates on how daily calorie intake should vary based on pregnancy stage and details on what nutrients or vitamin intakes may need to increase.

How can people apply these USDA Dietary Guidelines 2020 to their diets?
The most effective way to apply the dietary guidelines is to make sure that the majority of food eaten is healthy and rich in nutrients. Just 15% of a person’s daily calories should come from added sugars, saturated fat and alcohol.

The guidelines also emphasize a “pattern” of healthy eating, as opposed to single choices, since research shows that ongoing healthy eating habits have a greater impact on overall health. The guidelines include three “key dietary principles” that can help Americans develop a healthy diet:

1. Meet nutritional needs primarily from foods and beverages.
2. Choose a variety of options from each food group.
3. Pay attention to portion size.

Click here to read full article about USDA Dietary Guidelines 2020.