Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2015

Overview

HHS Logo USDA Logo

HHS’s Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion has the administrative leadership for the 2015 edition and is strongly supported by USDA’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion in Committee and process management, and evidence analysis functions. The Departments jointly review the Committee’s recommendations and develop and publish the revised Dietary Guidelines for Americans policy document.

Recommendations from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans are intended for Americans ages 2 years and over, including those at increased risk of chronic disease, and provide the basis for federal food and nutrition policy and education initiatives. The Dietary Guidelines encourage Americans to focus on eating a healthful diet—one that focuses on foods and beverages that help achieve and maintain a healthy weight, promote health, and prevent disease.

The first edition of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans was released in 1980. As mandated in Section 301 of the National Nutrition Monitoring and Related Research Act of 1990 (7 U.S.C. 5341), the Dietary Guidelines for Americans is reviewed, updated, and published every 5 years in a joint effort between the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Beginning with the 1985 edition, HHS and USDA have appointed a Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) consisting of nationally recognized experts in the field of nutrition and health. The charge to the Committee is to review the scientific and medical knowledge current at the time. The Committee then prepares a report for the Secretaries that provides recommendations for the next edition of the Dietary Guidelines based on their review of current literature.

Meetings

Meeting 6 – November 7, 2014

DGAC Meeting 6 will be held by webcast on November 7, 2014 from 10 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.:

  • Registration will open on October 23, 2014
  • The Federal Register Notice is coming soon

DGAC Meeting 7, the final meeting of the DGAC, is tentatively scheduled for December 15, 2014.

Past meetings

Meeting 1 (June 13-14, 2013)
Meeting 1 Online Notebook (All meeting materials, including presentation slides)

Meeting 2 (January 13-14, 2014)
Meeting 2 Online Notebook

Meeting 3 (March 14, 2014)
Meeting 3 Online Notebook

Meeting 4 (July 17-18, 2014)
Meeting 4 Online Notebook

Meeting 5 (September 16-17, 2014)
Meeting 5 Online Notebook

Future meetings

View the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Timeline [PDF - 566KB].

The tentative timeline for the development and publication of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2015 is as follows:

Fall 2012/Winter 2013

  • HHS and USDA solicited nominations for the DGAC

Spring/Summer 2013

  • DGAC were appointed
  • Request for public comments initiated
  • Work Groups established to identify topic areas
  • DGAC held its first public meeting on June 13–14, 2013

Fall 2013/Winter 2014

  • Subcommittees established to begin reviews of current scientific evidence
  • DGAC held its second public meeting on January 13-14, 2014, which included public oral testimony
  • DGAC held its third public meeting on March 14, 2014

Spring/Summer/Fall 2014

  • DGAC reviews current scientific evidence
  • DGAC held its fourth public meeting on July 17-18, 2014
  • DGAC held its fifth public meeting on September 16-17, 2014
  • DGAC Meeting 6 will be held by webcast on November 7, 2014 from 10 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
  • DGAC Meeting 7 is tentatively scheduled for December 15, 2014

Fall 2014/Winter 2015

  • DGAC issues report to the Secretaries of HHS and USDA
  • DGAC report published and made available to public for comment

Winter/Spring/Summer 2015

  • HHS and USDA consider DGAC’s scientific recommendations and public and agency comments
  • Departments prepare the Dietary Guidelines for Americans policy document

Fall 2015

  • HHS and USDA jointly publish and release the 8th edition of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans

Dietary Guidelines Related Resources

Data Analyses Used by the DGAC

See the list of data analyses used by the DGAC.

Communications

2015 Dietary Guidelines Timeline [PDF - 566KB]

Questions and Answers on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans

USDA’s Nutrition Evidence Library

Press Release: HHS and USDA announce the appointment of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee [PDF - 56 KB]

Official Documents

Federal Register Notices

Federal Register Notice: Announcement of the Fourth 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee Meeting [PDF - 179 KB]

Federal Register Notice: Announcement of the Third 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee Meeting [PDF - 22 KB]

Federal Register Notice: Announcement of the Second 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee Meeting and Invitation for Oral Testimony [PDF - 182KB] (Rescheduled from October.)

Federal Register Notice: Announcement of the Second 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee Meeting and Invitation for Oral Testimony [PDF - 180KB] (This meeting was postponed due to government shutdown.)

Meeting of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee [PDF - 143KB]

Establishment of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee 2/5/13 [PDF - 225KB]

Announcement of Intent to Establish the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee and Solicitation of Nominations for Appointment to the Committee Membership; Amendment (To extend the solicitation period to allow additional time for nominations to be received). 11/30/12 [PDF - 179KB]

The Announcement of Intent to Establish the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee and Solicitation of Nominations for Appointment to the Committee Membership 10/26/12 [PDF - 208KB]

Charter - Signed by Kathleen Sebelius [PDF - 32 KB]

Other Resources

Federal Agency Resources Related to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans [PDF - 181KB]

Questions and Answers on the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans

General Overview

Revision Process

General Overview

Q: What are the Dietary Guidelines for Americans?

A: The Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) provides sound advice for making food and physical activity choices that promote good health, a healthy weight, and help prevent disease for Americans ages 2 years and over, including Americans at increased risk of chronic disease. The recommendations are based on a rigorous review of relevant scientific evidence through a transparent process and serve as the cornerstone for all Federal nutrition education and program activities.

Q: Why are the Dietary Guidelines important?

A: The DGA form the basis of Federal nutrition policy, education, outreach, and food assistance programs used by consumers, industry, nutrition educators, and health professionals. All Federal dietary guidance for the public is required to be consistent with the DGA. The guidelines provide the scientific basis for the government to speak in a consistent and uniform manner. They are used in the development of print and web-based educational materials, messages, tools, and programs to communicate healthy eating and physical activity information to the public.

Q: Why does the government create the Dietary Guidelines and when are they updated?

A: The DGA is congressionally mandated under the 1990 National Nutrition Monitoring and Related Research Act (Public Law 101-445, Section 301[7 U.S.C. 5341], Title III). The DGA is required to be based on the preponderance of current scientific and medical knowledge and to be released by the Secretaries of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) every five years. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans is the current Federal nutrition policy document. The process for revising the guidance for 2015 is currently underway.

Q: How are the Dietary Guidelines communicated?

A: The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans is the current Federal nutrition policy document. The policy document is available online at www.DietaryGuidelines.gov. Federal Agencies, regional and state offices, food assistance programs, food and health organizations, and industry partners, as well as local community educators and advocates communicate messages and implement guidance based on the latest Dietary Guidelines. Resources to help communicate the Dietary Guidelines, including consumer messages, tools, and educational materials, are available at www.ChooseMyPlate.gov, www.DietaryGuidelines.gov, and www.health.gov.

Q: Why are the Dietary Guidelines only for ages 2 years and older?

A: Early iterations of the Dietary Guidelines recognized the unique nutritional needs and eating patterns of infants and toddlers from birth to 24 months of age because of the wide variance in the developmental stages of this age group. For this reason, the DGA has traditionally focused on adults and children 2 years of age and older. However, a separate effort is currently underway to identify and prioritize important topics applicable to Americans from birth to 24 months of age to inform the development of dietary guidance for this important age group. The intent is that by 2020 the Dietary Guidelines will address Americans of all ages, starting from birth.

Q: How are the Dietary Guidelines implemented and which Federal programs are impacted?

A: Agencies within HHS and USDA rely on and plan for receiving DGA policy recommendations every five years. Agencies use the newest information provided through the DGA to make appropriate changes and program updates. Nutrition education is a key part of most programs where the focus is on providing the most accurate and up-to-date dietary recommendations, nutrition advice, food resource management, and food safety practices. Examples of how the DGA is used by various agencies include:

In HHS

In USDA

Revision Process

Q: What is the process for creating a revised set of guidelines?

A: In the first stage of the revision process, a Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (the Committee or DGAC) is chartered following Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) guidelines. The Committee is composed of nationally recognized experts in the field of human nutrition and chronic disease prevention.

The DGAC will consider the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans and determine topics for which new scientific evidence is available that may inform revisions to existing recommendations or suggest new guidance. The DGAC will examine the state of current scientific evidence using systematic reviews, data analyses, and/or food pattern modeling analyses. Additional sources of information may include scientific evidence-based reports, input from expert guest speakers, as well as oral and written comments from the public.

The DGAC will submit an Advisory Report of its recommendations with rationales to the Secretaries of HHS and USDA for consideration in developing the 8th edition of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans policy document.

During the second stage of the revision process, the Departments develop the policy document, Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The DGA is based on the Committee’s Report and a consideration of public and Federal Agency comments.

Q: How is the Dietary Guidelines revision process managed?

A: The DGA is jointly developed and published by HHS and USDA, with the lead role rotating between the two Departments every five years. HHS’s Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (ODPHP) has the administrative lead for developing the 2015 DGA; however, each step of the development of the Dietary Guidelines is a joint effort between HHS and USDA.

The process is overseen by four Co-Executive Secretaries, two from HHS’s ODPHP and two from USDA, one from the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP), who serves as the lead for USDA, and the other from the Agricultural Research Service (ARS). The DGAC Co-Executive Secretaries manage the activities of the DGAC and coordinate and lead the Federal staff supporting the Committee’s work.

Q: How will information on the Dietary Guidelines revision process be made available?

A: The website www.DietaryGuidelines.gov will serve as the clearing house for information related to the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee public meetings and the 2015 Dietary Guidelines process. Written public comments; public meeting registration; background materials, such as estimated time tables, meeting summaries, and transcripts; and other public materials related to the Dietary Guidelines process will be posted in this central location.

Q: How are the members of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee selected?

A: Public nominations to the Committee were sought in the fall of 2012 in the Federal Register announcement for the establishment of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. Expertise was sought in specific specialty areas including cardiovascular disease; type 2 diabetes; overweight and obesity; osteoporosis; cancer; pediatrics; gerontology; maternal/gestational nutrition; epidemiology; general medicine; energy balance, which includes physical activity; nutrient bioavailability; nutrition biochemistry and physiology; food processing science, safety, and technology; public health; nutrition education and behavior change; and/or nutrition-related systematic review methodology. Members are non-Federal employees who are classified as special government employees (SGEs) for the duration of their appointments. The DGAC selection process provides balanced and diverse membership, representing various ethnicities, ages, genders, and regions of the country to the extent possible. Announcement of member appointments and information on the DGAC members will be available on www.DietaryGuidelines.gov.

Q: How does the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee review current evidence?

A: In addition to other resources, the DGAC will use the Nutrition Evidence Library (NEL) established by the USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion to support its systematic review of the current science on nutrition and health. The NEL specializes in conducting systematic reviews to inform Federal nutrition policies and programs. More information on the NEL is available at www.NEL.gov.

Q: What is a Nutrition Evidence Library (NEL) systematic review?

A: The NEL systematic review methodology is designed to objectively review, evaluate, and synthesize research to answer important nutrition and health-related questions. NEL uses a six-step approach designed to minimize bias and ensure transparency and reproducibility of the process: 1) Develop research questions, 2) create and implement literature search and sort protocols, 3) develop evidence portfolios (summaries of research findings), 4) synthesize the bodies of evidence, 5) develop conclusion statements and grade the evidence, and 6) describe research recommendations. Complete evidence portfolios from the 2010 Dietary Guidelines revision process are posted at www.NEL.gov. Reviews completed for the 2015 revision process will be posted following the release of the DGAC’s Report.

Q: Why does the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee use a systematic review methodology?

A: Systematic review is considered the state-of-the-art method for objectively synthesizing research findings to support practice, guideline, and policy recommendations. The transparent systematic review method used by the USDA Nutrition Evidence Library (NEL) ensures government compliance with the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2001 (Data Quality Act), which mandates that Federal Agencies ensure the quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity of the information used to form Federal guidance. NEL systematic reviews were a hallmark of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines revision process and will be instrumental in the 2015 revision process.

Q: Can the public attend meetings of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee?

A: The DGAC will hold a series of public meetings to review and discuss the scientific evidence to support recommendations. All meetings of the DGAC are open to the public through webcast technology; the first two meetings will also allow attendance in person. Meeting dates, times, locations, and other relevant information will be announced at least 15 days in advance of each meeting via Federal Register Notice. Notices can be accessed directly at http://www.gpoaccess.gov/fr/. Registration and meeting announcements will be posted at www.DietaryGuidelines.gov. Transcripts, minutes, and archived webcasts of each meeting will also be available at www.DietaryGuidelines.gov.

Q: Will the public have an opportunity to give input on the Dietary Guidelines revision process?

A: The public is encouraged to submit comments throughout the Committee’s deliberations. The public will be able to submit comments electronically at www.DietaryGuidelines.gov by clicking on the “submit comments” link. Public comments, once posted, will be viewable by the public by clicking on the “read comments” link. All comments are provided to the members of the DGAC. Information on submitting public comments will also be posted in Federal Register Notices.

Opportunity for public oral testimony will be provided at one DGAC meeting, as well as following submission of the DGAC Report. Details will be published in the Federal Register.

Q: Can the public submit research to be included in the Nutrition Evidence Library (NEL) systematic reviews?

A: Research published in a peer-reviewed journal by December 31, 2013 would be available to be considered by the 2015 DGAC in a NEL systematic review, although systematic reviews may continue in 2014. The public can inform the DGAC about relevant research by submitting a public comment at www.DietaryGuidelines.gov. However, to be included in a NEL systematic review, studies must meet predetermined inclusion criteria developed by the DGAC.

Q: Why are meetings of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee provided by webcast?

A: Webcasting provides accessibility and transparency to viewers nationally as well as internationally. During the 2010 DGAC process, meetings were transitioned from in-person only attendance to webcasts. Webcasts increased access to DGAC deliberations to a much larger audience, including attendees from 15 countries. Participants such as students and staff of local health departments, who normally would not be able to travel to the metropolitan Washington, D.C. area, were able to observe the webcasts. This eliminated travel time and cost to the public. Attendance for 2010 webcast meetings averaged more than 400 attendees or sites, almost double the participation for 2010 meetings with in-person only attendance. To continue to increase transparency and reach of the process to stakeholders, 2015 DGAC meetings will be webcast, and recordings of the webcasts will be available at www.DietaryGuidelines.gov.

Q: How do the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee Report and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans relate to each other?

A: The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee Report is a scientific report that presents the recommendations of the independent 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee to the Secretaries of HHS and USDA for use in updating the official Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The DGAC Report is written for the Federal government as the basis for developing the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Comments from Federal Agencies and the public are considered in the development of the DGA. The DGA is intended for policymakers, nutrition educators, and health professionals in developing nutrition policy, nutrition education messages, and consumer materials for the general public and for specific audiences, such as children, pregnant women, and older Americans.

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