By: Krystal Register, MS, RDN, LDN, Director, Health & Well-being, FMI

The 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans were released as anticipated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Health and Human Services (HHS) just before the end of 2020. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Purdue emphasized that, “good food leads to good health” during the announcement on December 29th, noting that the guidelines will serve to, “help all Americans lead healthier lives.” See FMI's press release announcement

True Purpose of the Dietary Guidelines

As we ring in this New Year amidst an on-going pandemic, the true purpose of the Dietary Guidelines carries newfound meaning to help consumers proactively stay healthy, feel better, and enjoy food. The recommendations are designed to provide science-based advice for all Americans, regardless of age, race, or socioeconomic status, to build meals and snacks to help prevent disease and promote health. The guidelines also incorporate important food safety messaging.

Science-Based Thoughtful Process

Federal law requires that the Dietary Guidelines be, “based on the preponderance of current scientific and medical knowledge.” They are updated every five years, each edition building on the last, with revisions grounded in the Scientific Report of the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee and consideration of federal agency and public comments, like those provided by FMI this past summer. It is important to understand the scientific and methodical process behind the guidelines to fully embrace the foundational role they play in federal nutrition programs, outreach and education, and overall public health.

Call to Action for All Americans

The new Dietary Guidelines say Americans should focus on the following for better health:

  • Balance the foods we eat to follow an overall healthy pattern of eating at every life stage.
  • Use the general framework to meet our personal preferences, traditions, and budget.
  • Include a variety of nutrient-rich food and beverage choices to meet our needs.
  • Use moderation when it comes to added sugars, saturated fat, sodium and alcohol.

We all have a role to play, using the Dietary Guidelines as a springboard to boost the health of our nation. The theme to “Make Every Bite Count” encourages consumers to choose nutrient-rich foods and beverages, with a note that it is never to early or too late to make the connection between good food and good health.

Small Changes for Better Health

With growing interest in health and well-being, there is great opportunity to help consumers make small changes while shopping, cooking and eating to gradually adopt healthy habits more closely aligned with the Dietary Guidelines. The food industry works diligently to deliver a marketplace full of healthy, accessible, nutrient-rich food and beverage choices. Education and encouragement by registered dietitians and community health professionals, meeting consumers where they are to make small changes, holds promise for improved public health.