New Dietary Guidelines Receive Support, but Also Spark Controversy

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New USDA and HHS dietary guidelines focus on the bigger picture involving dietary patterns.
New USDA and HHS dietary guidelines focus on the bigger picture involving dietary patterns.

The American Cancer Society expressed general support for the updated guidelines6 but expressly disagreed on the topic of red and processed meats. In its own nutrition guidelines, the American Cancer Society recommends limiting consumption of these foods based on a body of research linking them to an increased risk for cancer.7

The lack of focus on reducing intake of red and processed meats, refined grains, and starches “is clearly due to the conflicting mandate of the USDA to both protect the public and help the food industry,” said Dr Mozaffarian, who recently published an authoritative review on dietary patterns and their effect on heart disease in Circulation.8 “The USDA sacrificed the health of Americans for the benefit of the US and multinational food industry.”

From an endocrinology perspective, Dr Apovian would like to see an increased focus on eliminating processed foods and high-sugar snacks and beverages from the diet. In fact, she believes that sugar-sweetened drinks should be targeted as an item in the food supply that is unnecessary and can be completely eliminated. However, such efforts transcend the scope of individual food choices: “This would need to be done by taxing ‘junk foods' and subsidizing fruits and vegetables and other costly items so they can be consumed by more Americans who cannot afford them now,” she said. “High-sugar processed foods are usually less expensive than the items recommended by the dietary guidelines.”  

Dr Mozaffarian noted that the DGAC recommended such policies, but the “many robust, evidence-based policy recommendations in the 2015 DGAC scientific committee report are greatly watered down,” he said. “In this case, the public was clearly left to suffer at the expense of corporate profit.”


  1. US Department of Health and Human Services and US Department of Agriculture. 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. 8th ed. 2015. Accessed January 21, 2016.
  2. AMA supports newest dietary guidelines for Americans to improve public health [news release]. Chicago, IL: American Medical Association; January 7, 2016. Accessed January 21, 2016.
  3. The American Diabetes Association commends the release of the 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans to promote healthier living [press release]. Alexandria, VA: American Diabetes Association; January 8, 2016. Accessed January 21, 2016.
  4. Dreyer B. American Academy of Pediatrics statement on the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans [press release]. Elk Grove Village, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics; January 7, 2016. Accessed January 21, 2016.
  5. US Department of Agriculture and US Department of Health and Human Services. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010. 7th ed. Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office; December 2010. Accessed January 21, 2016.
  6. McCullough M. American Cancer Society statement on new USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans.  Published 2016. Accessed January 21, 2016.
  7. Kushi LH, Doyle C, McCullough M, et al. American Cancer Society guidelines on nutrition and physical activity for cancer prevention. CA Cancer J Clin. 2012;62:30–67.
  8. Mozaffarian D. Dietary and policy priorities for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity: A comprehensive review. Circulation. 2016;133:187–225. doi:10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.115.018585.
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