New US dietary guidelines reject recommendation to cut sugar, alcohol limit

The federal government on Tuesday issued new nutrition guidelines that keep current allowances for sugar and alcohol consumption unchanged, and rejected the recommendations of its scientific advisory committee to make significant cuts.

The Scientific Committee, composed of 20 academics and doctors, recommended lowering the limit for added sugars in the diet to 6% of daily calories from 10% in the current guidelines, citing rising obesity and the link between obesity and health. problems such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer. The committee also recommended lowering the limit for alcoholic beverages for men to one drink per day of two, in line with the guidelines for women. This suggests research linking greater alcohol consumption and a higher risk of death.

The new guidelines do contain the recommendation of the scientific committee that children under 2 years of age do not need sugar. This is the first time that the recommendations for babies and toddlers appear in the guidelines. Added sugars are those found in processed foods – in everything from soft drinks to breakfast cereals – as well as honey and sugar. It does not contain sugars that occur naturally in foods such as fruits and milk.

The nutrition guidelines, which are updated every five years, have a wide impact: they shape school programs, shape state and local health promotion efforts and influence what food businesses produce.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture and Health and Human Services reviewed the committee’s recommendations, released in July, and decided not to include the lower limits because ‘the new evidence is not substantial enough to support the quantitative recommendations for added sugars. or support alcohol. , ”Said Brandon Lipps, Deputy Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services at the USDA. Mr. Lipps said the new limits recommended by the scientific committee do not meet the standard set by the law.

The food industry groups worked intensively against the proposed new limits of the scientific committee. When asked if pressure from business groups played a role in the government’s decision, Mr. Lipps said “to the extent that stakeholders provided input on whether science is being properly reviewed, we have taken it into account,” noting that the government has received more than 106,000 comments from the public. ‘We are committed to issuing sound science guidelines in an open and transparent process. We believe that this is what we did at the end of the day, ”he said.

The American Liquor Association, which represents liquor manufacturers including Coca-Cola and PepsiCo, has asked the government to keep the limit of 10% added sugars at a public meeting in August. In response to the new guidelines, the organization’s president and CEO, Katherine Lugar, said in a statement: “U.S. liquor companies value the common sense approach that USDA follows.”

The alcohol industry also praised the government’s decision, with a Beer Institute spokesman praising “maintaining the long-standing definition of moderate alcohol use.”

Elizabeth J. Mayer-Davis, who chaired the liquor committee of the federal committee and added the subcommittee on sugars, said she was “disappointed that the dietary guidelines did not accept the 6% recommendation” as the limit for added sugars. . “I think this is a lost opportunity for a stronger public health message,” said Dr. Mayer-Davis, chair of the Department of Nutrition at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said.

Nigel Brockton, vice president of research at the American Institute for Cancer Research, said the government’s move to not lower the alcohol limit for men is very disappointing. The evidence for cancer is so overwhelming. “Dr Brockton said that alcohol use increases the risk of various types of cancer – including stomach, liver, colorectal and esophageal cancer – which are more common in men than in women.

Poor diet is associated with rising obesity and chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes. More than 70% of U.S. adults 20 and older are overweight or obese, according to 2015-2016 figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 42% are obese, according to CDC data from 2017-2018.

In general, the new dietary guidelines for Americans 2020-2025 encourage people to follow a ‘healthy diet’ that consists mainly of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean meats and poultry and low-fat dairy products, as well as seafood, nuts and vegetables. . oils. They also recommend limiting added sugars, saturated fats, sodium and alcoholic beverages and staying within the recommended calorie limits.

USDA and HHS launch a public awareness campaign on new guidelines focusing on the “Let every bite count” tagline. “Our goal is to make Americans healthy diet choices at every meal every day,” he said. Lipps said. The USDA is also launching a new website that will include a quiz to show people how their own eating habits now meet the dietary guidelines, as well as tools to get personalized eating recommendations, recipes for healthy meals, and tips for eating cheap. .

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