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Purpose of the Dietary Guidelines

What we eat and drink is important at every stage of life, and it is never too early or too late to eat healthfully. The purpose of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans is to provide advice on what to eat and drink to build a healthy diet that can promote healthy growth and development, help prevent diet-related chronic disease, and meet nutrient needs.

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Who's Involved in Updating the Dietary Guidelines

HHS and USDA are responsible for updating and releasing the Dietary Guidelines. This includes oversight of the Advisory Committee, providing opportunities for public input, and developing and coordinating clearance of the Dietary Guidelines throughout each Department. 

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Approaches to Examine the Science

The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee provides independent science-based advice in its scientific report to HHS and USDA to inform updated editions of the Dietary Guidelines. The Committee uses three approaches to examine the evidence: data analysis, food pattern modeling, and systematic reviews. Each of these approaches has its own rigorous, protocol-driven methodology, and plays a unique, complementary role in examining the science.

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History of the Dietary Guidelines

The Federal government has provided advice on dietary intake for more than 100 years, including publication of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans for more than 40 years. Since 1990, the Secretaries of Agriculture and Health and Human Services are required by law to publish the Dietary Guidelines for Americans every five years. The nature of dietary guidance, providing advice on foods and nutrients to eat more or less of, has remained relatively consistent. However, some of the specific messages have changed as the nutrition science has progressed and the methods used to review the science have advanced. The Dietary Guidelines serves as the cornerstone of Federal food and nutrition guidance.

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Peer-Reviewed Publications

Federal staff, often in collaboration with Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee members publish work on select topics related to the development of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans in peer-reviewed publications.

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Previous Editions of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans has been released by the Departments of Health and Human Services and Agriculture every five years since 1980. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025 is the 9th and current edition. There are now eight previous editions.

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