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Health Groups Provide Strong Support for Recommendations of 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee

Guidelines Should Advise Americans to Consume More Fruits and Vegetables, Water, and Whole Grains, and Less Sugar, Salt, and Red and Processed Meat

May 11, 2015

A broad coalition of national and regional health, environmental, and consumer organizations wrote the Secretaries of Agriculture and Health and Human Services urging support for many of the recommendations made by the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. That group’s recommendations will shape the next version of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

In comments filed on Friday, the groups stated their strong support for adding to Nutrition Facts labels a line for added sugars expressed in both teaspoons and grams. Labels should also include a “% Daily Value” based on the committee’s advice to limit added sugars to no more than 10 percent of one’s calories. The groups also said that the next Dietary Guidelines for Americans should recommend reducing daily sodium intake to 2,300 milligrams per day for the general population, with lower levels for at-risk subgroups, and urge lowering intake of red and processed meats. In addition, the groups expressed their support for the sustainability recommendations in the Guidelines, which are needed to ensure that sufficient healthy foods remain available despite environmental challenges.

The American Diabetes Association, American Institute for Cancer Research, Center for a Livable Future at Johns Hopkins University, Center for Science in the Public Interest, Consumer Federation of America, Consumers Union, and Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine were among the groups cosigning the document.

“Much of the obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and cancer in the United States is linked to diets deficient in fruits and vegetables and too high in added sugars, salt, red and processed meat, saturated fat, and refined white flour,” said CSPI executive director Michael F. Jacobson. “But besides providing advice to consumers, the federal government needs to support policies that would actually help Americans take advantage of the advice.”

In separate comments filed by CSPI, the group urged that the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans maintain the current definition of “moderate drinking” as a maximum of one alcoholic drink for women and two drinks a day for men. CSPI also told HHS and USDA that the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee did not provide sufficiently protective recommendations on aspartame, methylmercury in fish, caffeine intake for pregnant women, or artificial food dyes. Leading scientific experts on the safety of aspartame also submitted a letter separately regarding their serious concerns that the Committee inappropriately understated the risks of consuming aspartame.

An important shortcoming of the DGAC report was its recommendation that cholesterol no longer be considered a “nutrient of concern,” according to CSPI. In a comment signed by leading experts in nutrition and epidemiology, CSPI said that dietary cholesterol increases LDL cholesterol in the blood, a well-established risk factor for coronary heart disease, and that consumption of whole eggs is associated with a higher risk of type 2 diabetes and a higher risk of coronary heart disease in diabetics. Signatories on that statement include Dean Ornish of the Preventive Medicine Research Institute, Frank M. Sacks of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Harvard Medical School, Scott Grundy of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, and Jeremiah Stamler, professor emeritus at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University.

CSPI also generated supportive comments to the agencies from more than 14,000 citizens.