U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans

Updated February 15, 2016

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans is reviewed, updated, and published every 5 years jointly by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).  The Dietary Guidelines encourage Americans to eat a healthful diet to help achieve and maintain a healthy weight, promote health, and prevent disease.  It forms the basis for developing Federal nutrition programs, nutrition standards, and nutrition education initiatives. Traditionally, the Dietary Guidelines recommendations have been intended for healthy American ages 2 years and older.  However, with rising concerns about the health of Americans, the dietary recommendations since 2010 are intended for Americans ages 2 years and older, including those at increased risk of chronic disease. 

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2015-2020 was released January 7, 2016.  The most recent Guidelines focus on eating patterns and their food and nutrient characteristics, compared to the previous Guidelines which primarily focused on individual dietary components such as food groups and nutrients. The five overarching Guidelines that encourage a healthy eating pattern include the following: 1) follow a healthy eating pattern across the lifespan; 2) focus on variety, nutrient-dense foods, and amount; 3) limit calories from added sugars and saturated fats and reduce sodium intake; 4) shift to healthier food and beverage choices; and 5) support healthy eating patterns for all.  Key recommendations on what should be included or limited as a part of a healthy eating pattern provide further guidance. The key recommendations are intended as an integrated set of advice to achieve an overall healthy eating pattern.

IFT’s input on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans

IFT has been actively involved in the development and implementation of the Dietary Guidelines.  IFT submits nominations to serve on the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee.  IFT submits comments to the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, and USDA and DHHS during the deliberation process.

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Educational Resources

IFT offers educational resources on the development and implementation of the guidelines to members and other stakeholders.


Publications and Report
Nutrition Today article

Food Technology magazine articles

Research Report

  • Dietary Guidelines Alliance Consumer Research Report on “Motivating Families to Lead a Healthier Lifestyle in 2011 and Beyond | 2010.
    The goal of this research was to aid the Dietary Guidelines Alliance (DGA) in their effort to understand parents’ knowledge of, and attitudes toward, crucial food- and health-related topics, and to inform future Alliance efforts consistent with its mission to provide positive and simple messages to help American consumers achieve healthy, active lifestyles, consistent with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Members of the 2010 DGA include professional organizations such as IFT, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly known as the American Dietetic Association), American Society for Nutrition; trade associations and foundations; and USDA and HHS as liaisons.

Roundtables on the Dietary Guidelines

IFT, along with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly known as the American Dietetic Association), International Food Information Council, and International Life Sciences Institute North America convened two roundtables in response to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee’s call for a multi-sectoral effort to better implement the Dietary Guidelines.  The roundtables included food scientists and dietitians/nutrition communicators because food scientists innovate and reformulate food products that most Americans consume, and dietitians counsel clients and communicate dietary guidance to the public.  The purpose was to bring these key sectors together to interact and brainstorm solutions to integrate and translate the science behind the Dietary Guidelines into ways for bringing about actual behavior change. The discussions of the two roundtables are summarized and published in Food Technology magazine, Journal of Food Science, Journal of the American Dietetic Association, and Nutrition Today (see below).

Additional Related Resources

U.S. Dietary Guidelines and Reports

Dietary Guidelines – Global