2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines: What’s New and Different?
Sylvia “Gaby” Phillips, MS, RD, LD
Early this year the new 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans were published by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Updates to the Dietary Guidelines are the result of several steps that take years of work. The guidelines are updated every five years by the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. The committee’s report contains the latest evidence-based information related to nutrition and health. The public and agencies can take part in updating the Dietary Guidelines during public hearings. The USDA and HHS work together to make the final Dietary Guidelines available to the public (USDA/HHS, 2016).
You can find the 8th edition of the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans at:
The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) focus on healthy eating
patterns. Some changes have emerged from the previous edition of the DGA,
such as an addition of the physical activity icon to the five food groups, which
was missing in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines. Physical activity minimum
recommendations are 150 minutes per week for adults and 60 minutes for
youth. A healthy eating pattern includes the five food groups, limits saturated Graphic source: USDA/HHS
fats and trans fats, added sugars, and sodium.
Five key guidelines are suggested:
1. “Follow a healthy eating pattern across the lifespan”
Everything that we eat and drink matters. It’s important to reach the appropriate calorie
level for a healthy weight, get enough nutrients and reduce the risk of chronic diseases.
Many of our nutrition programs teach about these important topics.
2. “Focus on variety, nutrient density, and amount”
Some of the food group key messages have changed some words, however, the main idea
is to choose a variety of nutrient-dense foods within all food groups.
3. “Limit calories from added sugars and saturated fats and reduce sodium intake”
Limit saturated fats and trans fat to less than 10% of daily calorie intake
Limit added sugars to less than 10% of the daily calorie intake
Limit sodium to less than 2,300 mg per day. People with prehypertension
or hypertension should reduce their sodium intake to 1,500 mg per day
According to the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, dietary cholesterol should be
consumed “as little as possible” while trying to achieve a healthy eating pattern. The 2010
DGA limited dietary cholesterol to 300 mg per day. Based on consumption, the current average intake of dietary cholesterol among those one year and older in the United States is approximately 270 mg per day. (USDA/HHS, 2015)
Look for added sugars. It’s important to read the food labels to identify those extra sources of added sugars such as:
Brown sugar Invert sugar
Corn Sweetener Lactose
Corn Syrup Malt syrup
Glucose Raw sugar
High Fructose corn syrup Sucrose
4. Shift to healthier food and beverage choices”
As a lifestyle coach and registered dietitian, I understand how difficult lifestyle changes can be. Making some small changes at a time can be an effective way to switch to healthier food and drinks. Aiming for nutrient-dense food items can have a huge impact on health.
Graphic source: USDA/HHS
5. “Support healthy eating patterns for all”
This section ties in with the NMSU Cooperative Extension Service perfectly, as we already have an active role in our community. Providing the support to start a vegetable garden, cheering for the changes our health/nutrition participants do over the week, increasing chronic disease prevention classes in our community, answering health/nutrition questions in our community, providing healthy meals every time we have an opportunity, volunteering at the local food bank, hosting walking meetings and supporting health related events. These are just some of the activities that we can do to
support healthy eating patterns. Changes start at home, at work, and in our community by changing one person at a time, one community at a time. We all make a difference supporting healthy eating patterns! Providing evidence-based information to our community, such as the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, is a good place to start. (USDA/HHS, 2015)
Graphic source: USDA/HHS
U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010. 7th Edition, Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, December 2010.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture. 2015 – 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. 8th Edition. December 2015. Retrieved from: http://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/.