The latest panel recommends that the government go further. A limit of 6 percent of calories from added sugars is “more consistent with a dietary pattern that is nutritionally adequate while avoiding excess energy intake,” the committee concluded.
The expert panel did not touch on the issue of environmental sustainability, something that was a major controversy during the last round of the guidelines. In 2015, the advisory committee recommended that sustainability be part of the guidelines, something that the meat industry saw as a major threat.
After meat groups waged an all-out war over the issue, USDA and HHS ignored the recommendations and left the environment out of the guidelines. This time around, no one in Washington expected that sustainability would get taken up again, as POLITICO reported last year.
Aside from all the bickering about what the guidelines say about various foods, there’s also been increasing criticism that the recommendations themselves are flawed.
Epidemics of obesity, diabetes and hypertension continue to plague the country, tamp down productivity and rack up billions in extra health care costs. The guidelines are aimed at preventing diet-related diseases, not combating them — which means the advice is not geared toward a majority of the U.S. population.
“A Dietary Guidelines that does not address the two-thirds of Americans who are overweight or have obesity is, in our view, a nutrition policy that lacks relevance to much of the general public and reflects an insufficient review of the science,” the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics said in a comment to the panel this week. The group represents more than 100,000 dietitians and other nutrition professionals in the health field.
Several groups are furious that the guidelines continue to leave out low-carbohydrate and high fat diets as healthy eating. The committee doubled down on previous recommendations to limit saturated fat consumption and did not give low-carbohydrate diets a nod, as some advocates had hoped they would.