A U.S. advisory panel on nutrition has issued a sweeping report on the American diet that many of us won’t find earth shattering. One key conclusion: we should eat less sugar.
The 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee offered its recommendations to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Agriculture today as part of a process to develop new national dietary guidelines, which are updated every five years. Public comments are currently being accepted.
As far as sugar goes, the report states that: “Higher consumption of sugar-sweetened foods and beverages as well as refined grains was identified as detrimental in almost all conclusion statements with moderate to strong evidence.”
The report’s authors said they were guided by “two fundamental realities”:
“First, about half of all American adults — 117 million individuals — have one or more preventable, chronic diseases, and about two-thirds of U.S. adults — nearly 155 million individuals — are overweight or obese. These conditions have been highly prevalent for more than two decades. Poor dietary patterns, overconsumption of calories, and physical inactivity directly contribute to these disorders. Second, individual nutrition and physical activity behaviors and other health-related lifestyle behaviors are strongly influenced by personal, social, organizational, and environmental contexts and systems. Positive changes in individual diet and physical activity behaviors, and in the environmental contexts and systems that affect them, could substantially improve health outcomes.
Here’s more about the dietary recommendations:
The overall body of evidence examined by the 2015 DGAC identifies that a healthy dietary pattern is higher in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-or non-fat dairy, seafood, legumes, and nuts; moderate in alcohol (among adults); lower in red and processed meat;i and low in sugar-sweetened foods and drinks and refined grains. Vegetables and fruit are the only characteristics of the diet that were consistently identified in every conclusion statement across the health outcomes. Whole grains were identified slightly less consistently compared to vegetables and fruits, but were identified in every conclusion with moderate to strong evidence. For studies with limited evidence, grains were not as consistently defined and/or they were not identified as a key characteristic. Low- or non-fat dairy, seafood, legumes, nuts, and alcohol were identified as beneficial characteristics of the diet for some, but not all, outcomes. For conclusions with moderate to strong evidence, higher intake of red and processed meats was identified as detrimental compared to lower intake….
The New York Times reports on the panel singling out sugar as any area of particular concern:
Previous dietary guidelines have included warnings about eating too many added sugars, but for the first time the panel recommended that Americans limit them to no more than 10 percent of daily calories – roughly 12 teaspoons a day for many adults – because of their link to obesity and chronic disease.
Americans typically consume between 22 and 30 teaspoons of added sugars daily, half of which come from soda, juices and other sugary drinks. The panel said it supported a rule proposed by the Food and Drug Administration that would require a distinct line for added sugars on food nutrition labels, a change the food and sugar industries have fought aggressively.