The 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, a group of prestigious national experts, has submitted its recommendations to U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Sylvia Burwell and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, for the purpose of informing the 2015 edition of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
Dr. Anna Maria Siega-Riz, professor of nutrition and epidemiology and associate dean for academic affairs at the Gillings School, is a member of the advisory committee.
Secretaries Burwell and Vilsack released the advisory committee’s report on February 19, making it available for public review and comment.
The U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Agriculture (USDA) will consider the report, along with input from other federal agencies and comments from the public, as they develop the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, to be released later this year.
“We’re proud and grateful that Dr. Siega-Riz is a member of the committee that produced this groundbreaking report, the most comprehensive examination to date of the American diet, in total,” said Dr. Barbara K. Rimer, dean and Alumni Distinguished Professor at the Gillings School. “I expect that the report will drive food policies and programs for years to come.”
Dr. Rimer said she found one conclusion in the report particularly noteworthy:
It will take concerted, bold actions on the part of individuals, families, communities, industry, and government to achieve and maintain the healthy diet patterns and the levels of physical activity needed to promote the health of the U.S. population. These actions will require a paradigm shift to an environment in which population health is a national priority and where individuals and organizations, private business, and communities work together to achieve a population-wide ‘culture of health’ in which healthy lifestyle choices are easy, accessible, affordable, and normative — both at home and away from home.
“In making this recommendation,” Dr. Rimer said, “the committee has provided both a lifesaving vision and a massive challenge for the United States.”
Dr. Siega-Riz led a subcommittee whose members reviewed the scientific evidence related to the relationship between dietary patterns and various health outcomes. The subcommittee found remarkable consistencies across these outcomes.
“We identified dietary patterns that are high in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, seafood, legumes, and nuts; moderate in low- and non-fat dairy products; lower in red and processed meat; and low in sugar-sweetened foods and beverages and refined grains as being associated with positive health outcomes,” Dr. Siega-Riz said.
“The characteristics of these dietary patterns allow for multiple options of food choices that can be applicable for individuals of all ages from varying cultures and biological needs. Furthermore, without a paradigm shift in how we provide and support healthy dietary and physical activity patterns in our society, we will not make a dent in preventing the chronic diseases that plague our nation,” Dr. Siega-Riz said.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans was first published in 1980. Beginning in 1990, Congress mandated that HHS and USDA release a new edition at least every five years. The Dietary Guidelines contain the latest, science-based nutrition recommendations for the general public with the goal of preventing disease and promoting healthy, active lifestyles. The document is compiled for and used primarily by nutrition and health professionals, policy makers and educators, and is the foundation for federal nutrition efforts, including education initiatives and food assistance programs.
The 14 experts who comprised the advisory committee are nationally recognized in the fields of nutrition, medicine and public health. The committee held seven public meetings over the past two years.
Note: The public is encouraged to view the independent advisory group’s report and provide written comments at www.DietaryGuidelines.gov for a period of 45 days. Members of the public also will have an opportunity to offer oral comments at a public meeting in Bethesda, Maryland on March 24. Those interested in providing comments at that meeting can register at www.DietaryGuidelines.gov.
Members of the Gillings School community may attend all or part of a symposium titled “Scientific Report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee: Evidence Basis and Key Recommendations,” hosted by the Harvard T.H. Chan of School of Public Health and available by webcast on February 25, from 3:30 to 6 p.m. in 230 Rosenau Hall (Mayes Center). Dr. Siega-Riz will speak live at the Mayes Center between 4 and 4:45 p.m. The full agenda is available here.