Expected changes to Dietary Guidelines for Americans in 2020

The Food Pyramid may have gone out of favor, but the Dietary Guidelines for Americans remain.

The guidelines are updated by congressional mandate every five years, and they are slated for another revision in 2020. Lean Plate Club™ blogger Sally Squires told WTOP some of the things the public can expect in the coming update.

“The biggest change is that, for the first time, we’re going to get guidelines for what kids — so those are from birth to age 2 — should eat,” Squires told WTOP. “And there’s been a group of experts that’s been working on that for quite a while.”

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans began in 1980. Most items on the guidelines have remained unchanged over the last several decades, but there are new additions that make it to the list with each revision.

“They’re also going to take a look at a lot of other topics and among them is going to be seafood,” Squires said. “What effect does seafood have on lowering heart disease risk or in brain development?”

The core tenants of the Dietary Guidelines are much the same as they were when they were established in 1980.

“From the very beginning we’ve been told: Eat a varied diet, get plenty of fruits and vegetables, watch out for too much added sugar and too much salt, and eat to maintain a healthy weight,” Squires said.

Some of the changes to the guidelines seem obvious today, like the recommendation that a vegetarian diet could be beneficial to your health, but were not well established until their inclusion in the guidelines.

“Today, that is something we would kind of all laugh at; of course we know that it could be,” Squires said. “But it really wasn’t until the 1990s that the Dietary Guidelines Committee said that would be an appropriate way to eat.”

Another change coming in 2020 is an effort on the part of the Dietary Guidelines Committee to be more transparent and receptive to the public as they go about making changes.

“The public can actually attend these meetings, or — since you may not want to sit for hours on end at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which is where they will be held — you can also actually give public comments online.” Squires said.

Lean Plate Club's Sally Squires on WTOP 4/3/2019

Zeke Hartner

Zeke Hartner is a digital writer/editor who has been with WTOP since 2017. He is a graduate of North Carolina State University’s Political Science program and an avid news junkie.

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