US Dietary Guidelines Systematic Scientific Advice on Cutting Sugar and Alcohol

Rejecting the advice of its scientific advisers, the federal government announced new nutritional recommendations that are a well-known nutritional reference, advising Americans to “count every bite” while rejecting expert recommendations on the consumption of sharply reduce sugar and alcoholic beverages.

The “Dietary Guidelines for Americans” are updated every five years, and the latest recurrence came on Tuesday, ten months ago, in a pandemic that posed a historic health hazard to Americans. Limited to their homes, even those who evade the coronavirus themselves drink more and gain weight, a phenomenon often referred to as ‘quarantine 15’.

The dietary guidelines influence Americans’ eating habits, influence food stamp policies and lunch for school supplies, and indirectly influence how food manufacturers formulate their products.

But the latest guidelines do not address the current pandemic, nor, according to critics, new scientific consensus on the need to adopt dietary patterns that reduce food insecurity and chronic diseases. Climate change does not appear in the advice, which does not address sustainability or greenhouse gas emissions, both of which are closely linked to modern food production.

A report released by a scientific advisory committee last summer recommended that the guidelines encourage Americans to drastically cut their consumption of sugars added to beverages and foods to 6 percent of daily calories, from the current recommended 10 percent.

The panel has linked high levels of obesity and obesity in the United States to serious chronic health conditions such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes. the conditions also increase the risk of developing severe Covid-19 disease.

The committee also insisted on limiting daily alcohol consumption to one drink per day for men, and made it clear that consuming higher amounts of alcohol on average was associated with an increased risk of death compared to drinking lower amounts. But the current recommendation remains one drink per day for women and two for men.

Officials from the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services rejected both the sugar and the alcohol caps.

Perhaps confusing, the guidelines say “the vast amount of evidence supports the intake of added sugars and alcoholic beverages to promote health and prevent disease; the evidence revised since the 2015-2020 edition does not currently substantiate quantitative changes. ”

The new guidelines do say for the first time that children younger than 2 should not consume sugars, which are found in many grains and beverages.

The main sources of added sugars in the American diet are sweetened beverages – including soft drinks, as well as sweetened coffees and teas – desserts, snacks, sweets and breakfast cereals and pubs. Most Americans even exceed the ten percent norm; sugars make up an average of 13 percent of daily calories.

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Critics were disappointed that the federal agencies ignored the recommendations of the Scientific Advisory Committee. “I’m stunned by the whole thing,” said Marion Nestle, an emeritus professor of nutrition and food studies at New York University and author of several books on government nutrition guidelines.

“Despite repeated claims that the guidelines are scientifically based, the Trump agencies ignored the recommendation of the scientific committee they appointed, and instead returned to the recommendation of the previous guidelines,” she said.

The composition of the dietary advisory committees caused a stir earlier this year because many of the experts had links with the cattle and dairy industry. Yet the scientists went further in their advice than previous committees had, especially with the recommendations to limit sugar and alcohol, Drs. Nestle said.

“These were big changes, and they got all the attention when the report came out last summer for very good reasons – and it was ignored in the final report,” said Dr. Nestle said.

“The report was introduced as science-based – they used the word science many times and made a big point about it,” she added. “But they ignored the scientific committee they appointed, which I think was astounding.”

In other ways, the new guidelines are in line with previously issued federal recommendations. Americans are encouraged to eat more healthy foods, such as vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, nuts, seafood, low-fat or low-fat dairy, and lean meats and poultry.

The guidelines urge the country to consume less sugar, saturated fats, sodium and alcohol, and to limit calorie intake.

For the first time, the guidelines follow a “full-life approach”, which seeks to outline broad advice for pregnant and breastfeeding adults and for children under 2 years of age.

One of the recommendations for pregnant women, those who are about to get pregnant and those who are breastfeeding, is to eat enough seafood and fish that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids but with a low methyl mercury content , which can have harmful effects on a developing fetus. This dietary pattern has been linked to healthier pregnancies and better cognitive development in children.

The new guidelines highlight the health benefits of breastfeeding, which are associated with lower risks of obesity, type 1 diabetes and asthma in children. Foods that are potential allergens, such as eggs and peanuts, should be imported during the first year of life – after four months of age – to reduce the risk of developing allergies.