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General Questions

Dietary Guidelines for Americans 

  • A: The Dietary Guidelines for Americans is the cornerstone of Federal nutrition policy and nutrition education activities, providing food-based recommendations to promote health, help prevent diet-related disease, and meet nutrient needs. HHS and USDA jointly publish the Dietary Guidelines every 5 years.

  • The Dietary Guidelines informs a variety of Federal activities, such as updating nutrition standards for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children. Federally funded nutrition education activities also use the Dietary Guidelines to develop messages, while also tailoring to meet the particular needs of a specific audience based on culture, context, life stage, and other considerations where needed. Besides the Federal government, Tribal, state, and local governments, academic institutions, non-government organizations, and the private sector use the Dietary Guidelines to inform their research, policy, programs, and practices for public health promotion and disease prevention initiatives. 

  • A: The Dietary Guidelines was first released in 1980. In 1990, Congress passed the National Nutrition Monitoring and Related Research Act, which mandates in Section 301 that HHS and USDA jointly publish the Dietary Guidelines at least every five years. The law requires that the Dietary Guidelines is based on the preponderance of current scientific and medical knowledge. You can learn more about the history of the Dietary Guidelines by visiting our page on this topic. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025 is the current edition until the next edition is released.

Work Underway Questions

Process for the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2025-2030 

  • A: Updating the Dietary Guidelines is a scientifically rigorous, multi-year process that includes opportunities for public participation. The process is best understood through five steps:

    • Step 1: Identify the Scientific Questions
    • Step 2: Appoint the Advisory Committee
    • Step 3: Review of the Evidence by the Advisory Committee
    • Step 4: Develop the Dietary Guidelines
    • Step 5: Implement the Dietary Guidelines

    Each of these steps including opportunities for public participation are described in detail under the Learn About the Process section. Step 3 is the current step in the process. This step ends with the submission of the Committee’s scientific report to the Secretaries of HHS and USDA. The Departments will develop the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2025 – 2030, informed by the Committee’s scientific report and with consideration of Federal agency input and public comments. HHS and USDA plan to release the Dietary Guidelines by the end of 2025.

  • A: HHS and USDA will consider factors related to DEI in every step – from the identification of scientific questions to the appointment of the Committee, throughout the Committee’s scientific review and development of its scientific report, and in the drafting of the next edition of the Dietary Guidelines.

    Regarding the Committee, efforts were made to convene a group of experts that represent a diversity of expertise and experience and is reflective of the racial, ethnic, gender, and geographic diversity within the United States. Additionally, HHS and USDA selected Committee members with health equity expertise.

    Across all our scientific approaches used to review the evidence, we will ensure that factors such as socioeconomic status, race, ethnicity, and culture are considered and described to the greatest extent possible based on the information provided in the scientific literature and data. For example, the proposed scientific questions that will utilize the food pattern modeling approach state that population norms, preferences, and needs of the diverse individuals and cultural foodways within the U.S. population should be considered when the Committee assesses whether changes should be made to the USDA Dietary Patterns.

  • A: HHS and USDA appointed the 2025 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee to review the scientific evidence on diet and health. The Committee will meet approximately six times, and all Committee meetings can be viewed virtually by the public. Additionally, the public is encouraged to submit public comments throughout the course of its operation. The Committee will develop a scientific report with independent science-based advice that will be submitted to the Secretaries of HHS and USDA for consideration and development of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2025-2030. Upon delivery of its report to the Secretaries or when its 2-year charter expires (whichever comes first), the activities of the Committee will end.

  • A: The Dietary Guidelines for Americans is a critical tool for improving the health of Americans. Below are examples of actions taken by the Departments to continue to evolve and strengthen the process:

    • The Departments have taken numerous steps to enhance transparency by sharing information throughout each step of the development process on DietaryGuidelines.gov. This includes providing access to live and recorded public meetings, public comments, protocols for the scientific review, and draft conclusion statements. In addition, the public has opportunities to provide comments and was invited to nominate members to serve on the 2025 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee.
    • HHS and USDA continue to evaluate the methodologies for NESR systematic reviews and food pattern modeling to ensure that these approaches are in line with best practices (see questions below). NESR has developed a process called “continuous evidence monitoring” (CEM), which is a process that uses established systematic review protocols to periodically search for, screen, and prepare evidence for future systematic reviews. CEM can be used to monitor the evidence on high priority questions to help determine if sufficient new research is available to update existing NESR systematic reviews. Additionally, efforts are being made to ensure that data analysis methodologies capture the most updated and relevant data possible, including data that represent potential changes in dietary intake due to COVID-19.
    • USDA has initiated work with a contractor to gain insights from Federal and nonfederal experts to start the process of adapting the complex methodology of systems approaches and applying it as effectively as possible to the Dietary Guidelines process while ensuring that the Dietary Guidelines continues to reflect the highest standard of scientific integrity and contain information adaptable for public health and consumer use. A report is expected by the end of 2023.
  • A: NESR has maintained a robust Continuous Quality Advancement (CQA) program since its inception. Through this CQA program, NESR routinely evaluates and refines its methodology and tools to ensure that NESR’s process remains state-of-the-art. CQA work results in timely updates to the NESR methodology manual, procedure, and training materials.

    Engagement with other leading systematic review organizations is a crucial component of NESR’s CQA program. NESR works to learn from the expertise of these other systematic review organizations’ methodological advances and technological infrastructure while making sure that NESR methods are appropriate for public health nutrition decision-making. Leveraging the work of other organizations ensures NESR methodology aligns with current best practices and that staff are adequately trained, promotes efficiency and resource management, and ensures the ongoing high quality and credibility of NESR work.

  • A: To prepare for the establishment of the 2025 Committee, HHS and USDA collaborated on Continuous Quality Advancement (CQA) efforts for food pattern modeling, focusing on methods to better reflect the complex interactions involved, variability in intakes, and range of possible healthful diets. Federal staff evaluated the analytic methods and development of data inputs and constraints for food pattern modeling and compared them to methods used in the development of guidance in other countries, as well as other modeling exercises described in scientific publications. This effort is part of HHS and USDA’s commitment to drive continuous process advancements and adopt best practices. More information about advances in food pattern modeling analyses to support the work of the 2025 Committee will be provided during the Committee’s review.

2025 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee

  • A: The 2025 Committee includes 20 nationally recognized nutrition and public health experts. See the list of members here.

  • A: The role of the Committee is to review the current body of nutrition science and develop a scientific report with advice and recommendations that are provided to HHS and USDA to help inform the development of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2025-2030. Specifically, the Committee will examine the scientific evidence on specific topics in nutrition and health using each of the following approaches: systematic reviews, food pattern modeling, and data analysis. Conclusion statements and findings from the scientific questions answered using the three approaches will be used by the Committee to develop overarching advice to the Departments. Committee members will collaborate during public and subcommittee meetings, participate in the development of evidence review protocols, review and synthesize evidence, present scientific findings, consider public comments, and develop a scientific report.

    Being a Committee member is a volunteer position, and HHS and USDA greatly value the dedication, expertise, and contribution that each Committee member provides throughout the Committee’s tenure. Although Committee members serve without pay, travel for in-person meetings is reimbursed at approved rates.

  • A: The 2025 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee is formed under and governed by the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA), which provides legal requirements for forming and using Federal advisory committees. According to FACA, a charter must be filed with Congress before a Federal advisory committee can meet or take any action. The charter for the 2025 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee was filed on December 9, 2022. HHS and USDA accepted Committee nominations from the public. All complete nomination packages were reviewed by HHS and USDA program staff based on the following criteria:

    • Professional Experience
    • Educational Background
    • Demonstrated Scientific Expertise
    • Balanced and Diverse Membership

    Following review by program staff, nominees were evaluated by the HHS Assistant Secretary for Health and the USDA Deputy Under Secretary of Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services. Additional vetting included a background check by HHS to determine if any candidates have a financial, ethical, legal, and/or criminal conflict of interest that would prohibit them from serving on the Committee. In addition, in compliance with the Federal ethics laws and regulations, each Committee member submitted a confidential financial disclosure report and will continue to submit one annually until the Committee concludes. HHS ethics officials review the confidential financial disclosure report and ensure the member’s interests and affiliations comply with federal laws and regulations.

    The Secretaries of HHS and USDA reviewed formal nomination recommendations from the Departments on the proposed Committee members and jointly appointed individuals to serve on the Committee. To learn more, visit Step 2: Appoint the Advisory Committee

  • A: HHS and USDA considered the following factors in selecting individuals to serve on the Committee. These factors were outlined in the request for nominations and include:

    • Professional Experience — At least ten years of experience as an academic, researcher, practitioner, or other health professional in a field related to one or more of the scientific topic areas to be examined; consideration of leadership experience and participation on previous expert committees or panels.
    • Educational Background — Advanced degree in nutrition- or health-related field, including registered dietitians, nutrition scientists, physicians, and those with public health degrees.
    • Demonstrated Scientific Expertise — Expertise related to one or more of the scientific topic areas to be examined by the Committee as demonstrated by the number and quality of peer-reviewed publications and presentations. Expertise in health equity and the scientific approaches used to review the evidence was also desired.
    • Balanced and Diverse Membership — A Committee that is reasonably balanced in terms of points of view and expertise, experience, education, and institutional affirmation, with a goal of establishing a diverse membership that is reflective of the racial, ethnic, gender, and geographic diversity within the United States.

    Additional information on Committee member selection can be found at Step 2 – Appoint the Advisory Committee.

  • A: The Committee will hold approximately six virtual meetings. All Committee meetings are available to the public virtually (live and recorded). Meeting dates and registration can be found on our page, Attend Virtual Meetings.

  • A: There are multiple opportunities for public participation before, during, and after the Committee’s review of the evidence. A public comment period opened on January 19, 2023, and will remain open throughout the Committee’s work to allow for public comments on the Committee’s scientific review. To learn more, visit our page on how to Get Involved, and sign up for email updates.

  • A: A charter is a document that is required by law to establish a Federal advisory committee. The charter specifies the committee’s mission or charge, specific duties, and general operational characteristics. Information about the 2025 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee charter, including a copy of the charter, can be found at the Advisory Committee Resources page.

Scientific Questions for the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2025-2030

  • A: HHS and USDA requested public comments on the proposed scientific questions from April 15 – May 16, 2022. Approximately, 1,400 public comments were received. About half of these submissions were unique comments. HHS and USDA considered all comments related to the following criteria to determine if edits or changes were needed and to prioritize the scientific questions to be examined by the Committee. These same criteria were used to identify the list of questions that were posted for public comment.

    • Relevance – Question is within scope of the Dietary Guidelines and its focus on food-based recommendations, not clinical guidelines for medical treatment.
    • Importance – Question addresses an area of substantial public health concern, uncertainty, and/or knowledge gap.
    • Potential Impact to Federal Programs – There is a high probability that the question will provide the scientific foundation for guidance that would inform Federal food and nutrition policies and programs.
    • Avoiding Duplication – Question is not addressed through existing or planned evidence-based Federal guidance (other than the Dietary Guidelines).

    The availability of research is also being considered to help determine which scientific questions the Committee will address. Research availability is being evaluated to determine whether there is sufficient evidence available for the Committee to conduct a new, or update an existing, systematic review. If sufficient research is not available, the question will be identified as an area needing more research.

    HHS and USDA appreciated the public’s feedback. The Departments are working with the Committee to continue to refine and prioritize the scientific questions as the Committee begins its work. Updates to the scientific questions will be discussed during Committee meetings, posted on DietaryGuidelines.gov, and shared with email subscribers. Sign up to receive updates.

  • A: The proposed scientific questions that will inform the next edition of the Dietary Guidelines focus on diet and health outcomes across the lifespan. Questions include the relationship between diet and risk of overweight and obesity, with a new emphasis on weight loss and weight maintenance. This new focus is because the prevalence of obesity continues to increase and is linked to chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. New questions also address dietary patterns with varying amounts of ultra-processed foods and food-based strategies that can be used by individuals and families to support implementation of the Dietary Guidelines. All scientific questions will be reviewed with a health equity lens to ensure that resulting guidance in the Dietary Guidelines is inclusive of people with diverse racial, ethnic, socioeconomic, and cultural backgrounds. Additionally, unless a specific population is identified in the question, the question considers evidence across the lifespan, including for infants, toddlers, children, adolescents, adults, individuals who are pregnant or lactating, and older adults. The Committee will continue to refine and prioritize the scientific questions during its review.

  • A: Each edition of the Dietary Guidelines is informed by the Committee’s scientific report, public comments, Federal agency input, existing evidence-based Federal guidance, and nutrient requirements set by the Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs). The DRIs provide reference values for macronutrients, vitamins, minerals, and other food components that indicate daily intake amounts to meet the needs of most healthy people, prevent excessive intakes, and reduce risk of chronic disease. These reference values provide an important source of evidence for the food-based recommendations provided in the Dietary Guidelines.

    The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine establishes DRIs for the United States and Canada. The DRIs for macronutrients, including the Acceptable Macronutrient Distribution Ranges (AMDR) for carbohydrates, are used as inputs into the Dietary Guidelines, and scientific review of the DRIs is the appropriate process to consider the macronutrient distribution in diets. The Joint U.S.-Canadian DRI Working Group has commissioned a review of all the different types of DRI values for macronutrients and energy. The review began in Fall 2021 and seeks to review the DRIs for all macronutrients over a period of several years. The review of macronutrients will address energy, protein, fat, carbohydrate, and fiber. HHS and USDA support this effort.

  • The topics of alcohol and sustainability will not be examined by the 2025 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. These two topics will be addressed in separate processes. Updates on these efforts will be provided on our Related Projects page.

  • A: The public comment period for the proposed scientific questions was open from April 15 - May 16, 2022. To view public comments, go to our page on Regulations.gov and click on “Browse Posted Comments.” If you have problems accessing the link, you can also search Regulations.gov with OASH-2022-0005, the Docket number for this Federal Register Notice.

Current Edition Questions

General Information for the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025 

  • A: The Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025 is the first edition that provides guidance for healthy dietary patterns by life stage, from birth through older adulthood, and for the first time, there are chapters devoted to each life stage, including chapters on infants and toddlers and women who are pregnant or lactating. 

    Check out our Top 10 Things to Know About the Dietary Guidelines resource.

  • A: This edition of the Dietary Guidelines emphasizes the importance of choosing nutrient-dense foods and beverages in place of less healthy choices at every life stage, and that it is never too early or too late to improve food and beverage choices to build a healthy dietary pattern. Its call to action is “Make Every Bite Count with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.” The four overarching guidelines to help make that happen are: 

    1. Follow a healthy dietary pattern at every life stage. 
    2. Customize and enjoy nutrient-dense food and beverage choices to reflect personal preferences, cultural traditions, and budgetary considerations. 
    3. Focus on meeting food group needs with nutrient-dense foods and beverages and stay within calorie limits. 
    4. Limit foods and beverages higher in added sugars, saturated fat, and sodium, and limit alcoholic beverages. 

    For most individuals, no matter their age or health status, achieving a healthy dietary pattern will require changes in food and beverage choices. The good news is that a healthy dietary pattern is not a rigid prescription. Rather, the Dietary Guidelines provides a customizable framework of core elements within which individuals can make tailored and affordable, nutrient-dense choices that meet their personal preferences and cultural traditions.

  • A: USDA and HHS provided multiple opportunities for public participation before, throughout, and after the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee’s review of the science, and the Departments valued this engagement. See our infographic Public Engagement Strengthens the Process to learn more about the opportunities for public engagement in the process to develop the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025. 

  • A: USDA and HHS provided multiple opportunities for public participation before, throughout, and after the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee’s review of the science, and the Departments value everyone’s engagement. All public comments submitted throughout the development process are available through Regulations.gov.

    • View written comments provided to USDA and HHS on the process to identify the topics and supporting scientific questions to be examined by the Committee.
    • View written comments submitted to the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee.
    • View written comments submitted to USDA and HHS on the Advisory Committee’s Scientific Report.
  • A: Each edition of the Dietary Guidelines builds on the preceding edition, with the scientific justification for revisions informed by the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee’s Scientific Report, consultation with subject matter experts within Federal agencies, and consideration of comments from these agencies and the public. As with previous editions, development of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025 involved a step-by-step process of writing, review, and revision conducted by a writing team of Federal staff from USDA and HHS. The writing team included Federal nutrition scientists with expertise in the Dietary Guidelines and related research and programs as well as specialists with expertise in communicating nutrition information. Key tenets of writing the Dietary Guidelines are that it must:

    • Represent the totality of the evidence examined
    • Address the needs of Federal programs
    • Reduce unintended consequences 
    • Follow best practices for developing guidelines
    • Use plain language

    Any revisions to previous editions of the Dietary Guidelines must have sufficient scientific justification, and by law, must be based on the preponderance of scientific and medical knowledge current at the time and not on individual studies, emerging science, or opinion. To support transparency, the Departments documented how the Committee’s scientific report was used to develop the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025.

    Learn more about how USDA and HHS developed the Dietary Guidelines by visiting our page on this topic.

  • A: The Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025 is currently available to download for free on DietaryGuidelines.gov. A hard copy version is also available for purchase through the U.S. Government Bookstore.

  • A: Suggested citation: U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025. 9th Edition. December 2020. Available at DietaryGuidelines.gov.

  • A: Information related to the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee’s work can be found under “Current Dietary Guidelines” in the "Process to Develop the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines" section. This section links to the Committee’s Scientific Report and public comments provided to USDA and HHS on the Committee’s Scientific Report. Additional supplementary information for data analysis and food pattern modeling are also available on DietaryGuidelines.gov. The completed NESR Systematic Reviews conducted by the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee can be found on the NESR website.

Select Topics for the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025

  • A: The Dietary Guidelines provides science-based recommendations on what Americans should eat and drink to promote health and prevent chronic disease – including obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Of the 60 percent of adults in the United States who currently are living with one or more diet-related chronic conditions, the majority are people with a condition that is included in the evidence base of the Dietary Guidelines. For people living with hypertension, high cholesterol, pre-diabetes, overweight and obesity, the evidence shows they would benefit from following the Dietary Guidelines recommendations to prevent progression to disease, such as cardiovascular disease.

    Those living with a disease, such as the 11 percent of Americans with diabetes, require clinical treatment. We emphasize that these are diseases that need one-on-one oversight and care by a medical specialist and team focused on the specific disease. 

    The Dietary Guidelines is not intended to be clinical guidelines for treating diet-related chronic diseases. However, Dietary Guidelines has served as a reference for Federal, medical, voluntary, and patient care organizations as they develop clinical nutrition guidance tailored for people living with a specific medical condition. Health professionals can adapt the Dietary Guidelines to meet the specific needs of their patients with chronic diseases, as part of a multi-faceted treatment plan. In this way, the Dietary Guidelines serve as a foundational piece of America’s larger nutrition guidance landscape.

    To learn more, check out our infographic The Dietary Guidelines for Americans Can Help You Eat Healthy To Be Healthy.

  • A: A healthy dietary pattern can benefit all individuals regardless of age, race or ethnicity, or current health status. The current edition (2020-2025) of the Dietary Guidelines provides food-based recommendations across the entire lifespan, providing guidance at varying calorie levels that can fit an individual’s age, sex, height, weight, and activity level. And people can “make it their own” by selecting healthy foods, beverages, meals, and snacks specific to their needs and preferences.

    The Dietary Guidelines provides a framework for a healthy dietary pattern (featuring nutrient-dense foods and beverages within recommended calorie limits) that is intended to be customized to individual needs and preferences. This concept is emphasized in the second of the four overarching guidelines in the 2020-2025 edition – which describes how individuals can customize a healthy dietary pattern to enjoy nutrient-dense food and beverage choices to reflect personal preferences, cultural traditions, and budgetary considerations.

    In every setting, across all cultures, and at any age or budget, there are foods and beverages that can fit within the Dietary Guidelines framework.

  • A: Decades of research shows that consuming a healthy dietary pattern that aligns with the Dietary Guidelines is associated with a wide range of health benefits, across all life stages. Unfortunately, most people in the U.S. are not eating according to the Dietary Guidelines. The Healthy Eating Index (HEI) measures how well eating patterns align with the Dietary Guidelines. The average HEI score is 59 out of a possible 100 points. Professional Resources available on dietaryguidelines.gov and USDA’s MyPlate can help improve implementation of the Dietary Guidelines

  • A: The science supporting the Dietary Guidelines consistently identifies low-fat and fat-free dairy as a component of a healthy dietary pattern. In addition, the dairy food group provides nutrients, such as calcium, vitamin A, vitamin D, and protein that help meet nutrient needs required across age and sex groups.  

    For individuals who are lactose-intolerant or who choose dairy alternatives, the dairy food group includes low-lactose or lactose-free dairy products, as well as fortified soy beverages and yogurt. 

    There are other calcium-fortified plant-based “milks” on the market that can help an individual meet their calcium recommendations; however these products are not part of the dairy food group because, as a category, their overall nutritional content is not similar to dairy milk.  

  • A: The Dietary Guidelines does not encourage a low-fat diet but rather it provides guidance to limit a type of fat called saturated fat to 10% of daily calories. The 2020-2025 edition encourages swapping saturated fat for healthier unsaturated fats: 

    • For those 2 years and older, intake of saturated fat should be limited to less than 10 percent of calories per day by replacing them with unsaturated fats, particularly polyunsaturated fats.
    • The recommendation to limit saturated fat to less than 10 percent of calories per day does not apply to those younger than age 2, and the inclusion of higher fats versions of dairy is a notable difference in the pattern for toddlers ages 12 through 23 months compared to patterns for ages 2 and older. 

    (Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025) 

    Decades of research shows that saturated fat is linked to increased cardiovascular disease, and this relationship was documented in the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee’s latest review of the body of evidence.  

    The Dietary Guidelines carry forward the Dietary Reference Intakes established by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine for different age and sex groups and recommends between 20-35% of daily calories come from total fat.

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