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A Roadmap to the 2015-2020 Edition of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans

People do not eat foods and nutrients in isolation but in combination, and this combination forms an overall eating pattern. A growing body of research has examined the relationship between overall eating patterns, health, and risk of chronic disease, and findings on these relationships are sufficiently well established to support dietary guidance. As a result, eating patterns and their food and nutrient characteristics are a primary emphasis of the recommendations in this 2015-2020 edition of the Dietary Guidelines. This edition of the Dietary Guidelines consists of this Introduction, three chapters, and 14 appendixes:

  • Chapter 1. Key Elements of Healthy Eating Patterns discusses the relationship of diet and physical activity to health over the lifespan and explains the principles of a healthy eating pattern. The chapter provides quantitative recommendations for a Healthy U.S.-Style Eating Pattern at the 2,000-calorie level as an example to show how individuals can follow these principles and recommendations. It also includes two variations at the same 2,000-calorie level as examples of other healthy eating patterns individuals can choose based on personal preference: the Healthy Mediterranean-Style Eating Pattern and the Healthy Vegetarian Eating Pattern. Chapter 1 focuses on the first three Guidelines and the Key Recommendations.
  • Chapter 2. Shifts Needed To Align with Healthy Eating Patterns compares current food and nutrient intakes in the United States to recommendations and describes the shifts in dietary choices that are needed to align current intakes with recommendations. Chapter 2 focuses on the fourth Guideline.
  • Chapter 3. Everyone Has a Role in Supporting Healthy Eating Patterns explains how all individuals and segments of society in the United States have an important role to play in supporting healthy eating and physical activity choices. It outlines a variety of strategies and actions that align with the Dietary Guidelines. Chapter 3 focuses on the fifth Guideline.
  • The Appendixes provide additional information to support the content of the chapters, including recommendations from the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans; calorie needs by age, sex, and level of physical activity; the base Healthy U.S.-Style Eating Pattern; two other examples of healthy eating patterns: the Healthy Mediterranean-Style and Healthy Vegetarian Eating Patterns; a glossary of terms; and nutritional goals for various age-sex groups. The Appendixes also include a list of selected Government resources on diet and physical activity; additional information on alcohol; lists of food sources of nutrients of public health concern; and food safety principles and guidance.