Diet guidelines should be for health, not profit

A new set of national dietary guidelines is set to be released later this year. As part of the update, the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee — a panel of nutrition researchers and professionals — released a preliminary report with suggested changes to the current guidelines.

The report has ignited controversy for stating that eating fewer animal products “is more health promoting and is associated with less environmental impact.” It also recommends limiting added sugar intake. These suggestions have made the report a target for objections from different food industries.

Both the North American Meat Institute and the Sugar Association accused the committee of discussing topics outside of their areas of expertise, claiming that the recommendations are based on “weak science” and “personal opinions.”

The meat and sugar industries are likely to lobby further against the recommendations in the coming months. Past lobbying efforts from food and agriculture interests have been effective in changing the national dietary guidelines.

However, the new guidelines, which will be used to inform national programs including school lunches and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, should not be subject to the influences of the food industry. Its desire for profit is too strong to ensure objective dietary recommendations.

Consequently, we support the findings of the Advisory Committee, and we hope to see the 2015 dietary guidelines implement recommendations that will do the most to improve Americans’ health.