The dietary guidelines are published every five years for the American public. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans provides food-based recommendations for people aged two years and older. Each edition reflects the current body of nutrition science, with a focus on chronic disease prevention.
The 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines expands upon the 2010 edition by focusing on overall eating patterns. While previous editions focused primarily on specific, individual dietary components such as
foods, food groups, and nutrients. It emphasizes overall eating patterns, the combinations of all the foods and drinks that people consume every day. This edition reaffirms guidance about the core building blocks of a healthy lifestyle that have remained consistent over the past several editions of the guidelines especially pertaining to physical activity.
The 2015 guidelines recommend a “healthy eating pattern” with limited sugar and saturated fat, less salt and more vegetables and whole grains and new information on
caffeine. This is the first edition to recommend a quantitative limit to consume less than 10 percent of calories from added sugars in order to control overall calorie intake.
The latest edition of the Dietary Guidelines focuses on these main takeaways for Americans:
Follow a healthy eating pattern across the lifespan.
- Eating patterns are the combination of all foods and drinks that a person consumes over time. A healthy eating pattern is adaptable to a person’s taste preferences, traditions, culture and budget. Healthy eating patterns include a variety of nutritious foods like vegetables, fruits, grains, low-fat and fat-free dairy, lean meats and other protein foods, and oils. Focus on variety, nutrient density and amount.
Limit calories from added sugars and saturated and trans fats, and reduce sodium intake.
- On average Americans consume up to 22 teaspoons of sugar a day. To meet the new 10 percent target, the average sugar intake should be cut nearly in half to no more than 12 teaspoons a day on a 2,000-calorie daily diet.
- Less than 10% of your daily calories should come from saturated fats. Foods that are high in saturated fat include butter, whole milk, meats that are not labeled as lean, and tropical oils such as coconut and palm oil. Saturated fats should be replaced with unsaturated fats, such as canola or olive oil
- American adults consume about 50% more sodium than the Dietary Guidelines recommends. Use the Nutrition Facts label to check for sodium, especially in processed and prepared foods like pizza, pasta dishes, sauces, soups and meats.
Shift to healthier food and beverage choices.
- Almost 9 in 10 Americans get less than the recommended amount of vegetables. Instead of changing your diet dramatically, find new ways to incorporate more veggies to dishes you’re already making. Try going meatless a few times a week and make vegetables the centerpiece of the meal.
- Most Americans can benefit from making small shifts in their daily eating habits to improve their health over the long run. Small shifts in food choices over the course of a week, a day, or even a meal—can make a difference in working toward a healthy eating pattern that works for you.
Support healthy eating patterns for all.
- Everyone has a role to play in encouraging easy, accessible, and affordable ways to support healthy choices at home, school, work, and in the community. The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans includes several examples of strategies to support healthy choices.
Information gathered from: Health.gov – The Office of Disease prevent and Health Promotion
Written by: Heidi Hayes, Employer Solutions Wellness Team