New Dietary Guidelines Skip 2 Controversial Suggestions

USDA rejects idea to further cut alcohol and sugar intake, weighs in on breastfeeding
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 29, 2020 12:12 PM CST
Updated Jan 2, 2021 11:12 AM CST
New Dietary Guidelines Skip 2 Controversial Suggestions
Stock photo.   (Getty/AlexRaths)

The official new dietary guidelines for Americans have been updated for the first time in five years, and they might be more notable for what they don't include. As the Wall Street Journal reports, the federal guidelines don't call for cuts in alcohol and sugar intake. Over the summer, a panel of experts recommended that the limit for alcohol consumed by men be reduced from two drinks a day to one, to match the current recommendation for women. The experts also suggested that the limit of added sugars be reduced from 10% of daily calories to 6%. However, the US departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services rejected both ideas, with a USDA official declaring that "new evidence is not substantial enough to support changes to quantitative recommendations for either added sugars or alcohol."

Generally, the guidelines call for a diet that emphasizes vegetables, fruits, legumes, low-fat dairy, nuts, seafood, and whole grains, and de-emphasizes red and processed meats and saturated fats, per the Center for Science in the Public Interest. You can read the full guidelines here. The guidelines aren't merely suggestions for individuals. Given the impact on school lunches and decisions by food manufacturers, big money is at stake, notes the Journal. As a result, food industry groups lobbied hard against the alcohol and sugar recommendations that surfaced over the summer. Of note:

  • Sugar, children: For the first time, the guidelines suggest that children under 2 have no added sugars at all added to their diets.
  • Breastfeeding: The guidelines recommend feeding babies only breastmilk for their first 6 months, reports the AP. If that's impossible, iron-fortified infant formula is the next best option. Babies also should get supplemental vitamin D starting soon after birth.
(More nutrition stories.)

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