Last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) published an 835-page report that will be used to inform the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines. Every five years, an advisory committee of health experts reviews the latest dietary and nutrition research to help determine federal nutrition policies and healthy eating recommendations. While the report is consistent with previous guidelines, there were some notable differences.

Tightened restrictions on alcoholic beverages for men

Previous guidelines recommended that men limit themselves to two drinks per day and women limit consumption to one drink per day. The new report recommends that both men and women should have only one drink per day.

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Tightened restrictions on added sugars

The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines urged Americans to limit their consumption of added sugars to 10 percent or less of their total caloric intake. The advisory committee report this year now recommends that Americans to reduce their added sugar intake to 6 percent of total calories.

Stronger evidence linking meat to chronic diseases

Plant-based advocates are celebrating this year’s findings that show more evidence linking red and processed meat consumption to chronic diseases. The report states that diets with less red and processed meat have a reduced risk of “all-causes of mortality.”

Did not warn against dairy products

While the report supports the reduced intake of saturated fat, cholesterol, and red meat, it does not address potential health conditions linked to the consumption of dairy products. Susan Levin, director of nutrition education for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, stated that the report “missed the mark when they failed to warn against dairy products, which are the leading source of saturated fat in the American diet.”

Did not address questions of sustainability

The report did not make any recommendations regarding the sustainability of the broader food system. The advisory committee urged USDA and HHS, who will write the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines, to consider the context of environmental sustainability.

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What’s next?

Although the final dietary guidelines normally include much of the science-based recommendations from the report, federal agencies often face intense lobbying from proponents of the meat and dairy industry. The 2015-2020 guidelines were heavily influenced by lobbyists trying to protect their industry by removing any explicit messages against eliminating red and processed meat from American diets.

USDA and HHS are taking public comments until August 13th and will hold a virtual meeting on August 11th to hear comments.

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Read One Green Planet’s ultimate guide to plant-based nutrition and plant-based health resources.

Eat More Plant-Based Meals at Home

Reducing your meat intake and eating more plant-based foods is known to help with chronic inflammation, heart health, mental wellbeing, fitness goals, nutritional needs, allergies, gut health, and more! Dairy consumption also has been linked to many health problems, including acne, hormonal imbalance, cancer, prostate cancer and has many side effects

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