January 7, 2016

Dietary Guidelines Fall Short in Following the Science and Protecting the Public

Statement by Dr. Andrew A. Rosenberg, Union of Concerned Scientists

WASHINGTON (January 7, 2016)—New Dietary Guidelines for Americans have been released today by the U.S. Departments of Agriculture (USDA) and Health and Human Services (HHS). These guidelines, which run through 2020, fall short of their potential, according the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).

Below is a statement by Dr. Andrew A. Rosenberg, director of the Center for Science and Democracy at UCS.

“The Dietary Guidelines are an important opportunity to give the American people advice based on the best independent science, and help policymakers at all levels make decisions in the public interest. Today’s guidelines are a disappointment, as they left out some important information, apparently due to political pressure from food industry lobbyists.

“USDA and HHS did not include explicit recommendations about the risks of red meat and the benefits of plant-based diets, ignoring clear scientific evidence from their own advisory committee. Sustainability issues related to dietary choices are absent from these guidelines entirely. That’s a missed opportunity for informing consumers so they can make up their own minds.

“The guidelines do follow the science in recommending that added sugars make up no more than 10 percent of daily calories. To date, USDA and HHS have failed to call on industry to take the lead in reducing added sugars in the foods and beverages they manufacture. It will be important for the Food and Drug Administration to require clear added-sugar labels so the public can act on this guidance.

“More needs to be done to align the official Dietary Guidelines, and federal food and agriculture policies across the board, with what we know to be good for public health and the environment. Americans need clear, scientifically sound information about how their dietary choices affect their health and the health of the planet.”

The Union of Concerned Scientists puts rigorous, independent science to work to solve our planet's most pressing problems. Joining with citizens across the country, we combine technical analysis and effective advocacy to create innovative, practical solutions for a healthy, safe, and sustainable future.