Delivering on the Dietary Guidelines

How Stronger Nutrition Policy Can Cut Healthcare Costs and Save Lives

Sarah Reinhardt

Published Jun 3, 2019


Today, 60 percent of all adults in the United States live with one or more chronic diseases—many of which are related to the foods we eat. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans is a widely underutilized tool for promoting public health an curbing chronic disease through healthier diets.

In this 2019 analysis, we show that if the US government had supported actionable, science-based guidelines that limit consumption of processed meats and added sugar—and people had been able to follow them—it could have saved 22,500 lives and $17.5 billion in healthcare costs in 2018. Furthermore, if all people had been able to meet fruit and vegetable recommendations, it could have saved an additional 110,000 lives and $32 billion in 2018.

The Trump administration must resist industry lobbying, publish guidelines that prioritize public health, and invest in strategies to address systemic barriers to healthier diets in order to allow the Dietary Guidelines for Americans to reach its full life- and cost-saving potential. The report includes detailed policy recommendations for achieving this goal.



Reinhardt, Sarah. 2019. Delivering on the Dietary Guidelines: How Stronger Nutrition Policy Can Cut Healthcare Costs and Save Lives. Cambridge, MA: Union of Concerned Scientists.