Dietary Guidelines Summit Names Tactics for Reaching All Americans

The comment period for the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans has closed, but that does not mean the discussions are over. Last week, a summit sponsored by the Dannon Institute, the National Dairy Council and Abbott Nutrition brought together members of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee and other experts to discuss the Dietary Guidelines and how their messages can be shared effectively with Americans. Michelle Matto, IDFA’s consultant on nutrition and labeling, attended  the event for IDFA and members.

Kevin Concannon, U.S. Department of Agriculture undersecretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services, opened the summit with a promise that the final Dietary Guidelines would be finished before the end of 2015. He also intimated that they would follow traditional Dietary Guidelines topics, possibly hoping to alleviate concerns about the committee’s recommendations to consider, for the first time, sustainability and the impact of food production on the environment.

The panel sessions discussed private-public partnerships that would encourage behavior change and address the needs of special populations to ensure that all Americans can access the Dietary Guidelines, understand them and can use them to guide their daily diets. The panelists stressed the importance of the Dietary Guidelines, including recommendations for preschool-aged children, targeted messages to specific populations and the need for an overall “culture of health” that makes healthier choices easier.

They also recommended strategies to help people implement the Dietary Guidelines, such as using positive messaging, identifying small steps that people can take to improve their diets and teaching them how to prepare nutrient-dense foods. Some speakers recommended a White House conference on food and nutrition.

Roger Clemens, adjunct professor at the University of Southern California and past Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee member, summarized the event, saying that the ultimate goal of the Dietary Guidelines is “safe, affordable, nutritious, accessible food for everyone.”

The final 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans will be released by the US Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services by the end of 2015. Public comments on the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee report were due May 8, 2015. Read IDFA’s comments here.