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Proposed Questions for 2025-2030 Dietary Guidelines for Americans

On April 14, 2022, the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Agriculture (USDA) released proposed scientific questions for public comment as the first step in the development process of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2025-2030 (Dietary Guidelines).

Developing the Dietary Guidelines

The development of the Dietary Guidelines is a multi-year, multi-step process. Via HHS, the process is as follows:

  1. HHS and USDA request public comments on the proposed scientific questions.
  2. There will be a call for nominations from the public and the appointment of a Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (Committee).
  3. The Committee will then conduct a review of the evidence related to the scientific questions, which culminates in the submission of a scientific report to the Secretaries of HHS and USDA.
  4. The Committee will discuss its work in public meetings and supporting materials will be provided to the public through HHS and USDA will consider the Committee’s report, along with federal agency and public comments, as they develop the next edition of the Dietary Guidelines.
  5. Once released, the new edition is implemented throughout the nutrition and health community both within and outside of the federal government.

Dietary Guidelines, 2025-2030 Proposed Scientific Questions

This year, the proposed scientific questions that will inform the next edition of the Dietary Guidelines focus on diet and health outcomes across the lifespan. New questions aim to address ultra-processed foods and food-based strategies that support the implementation of the Dietary Guidelines and help prevent or manage overweight and obesity.

IFT’s Science and Policy Initiatives (SPI) team reviewed the proposed questions and determined it most pertinent to respond to the following question:

What is the relationship between consumption of dietary patterns with varying amounts of ultra-processed foods and growth, size, body composition, risk of overweight and obesity, and weight loss and maintenance?

Our Reasoning

IFT’s SPI team opted to respond to this single question because the topic is critical to food science and technology. As noted in our formal comments, science must lead the consideration of “ultra-processed” foods. There is no established, scientific consensus definition of “ultra-processed” and varying definitions are used in research. If a scientific question including “ultra-processed” foods is included, a consensus definition is essential. And once defined, robust scientific data, beyond broad epidemiological studies, is vital.  To learn more about our reasoning, which goes beyond defining “ultra-processed foods,” please view IFT’s formal comments.

Our hope is that this question is reconsidered and focus is redirected to areas that help support a safe, nutritious, and equitable food system for the 2025-2030 Dietary Guidelines.

Looking Ahead

Throughout the 2025-2030 Dietary Guidelines process, IFT will continuously follow and advocate for the role of food science and technology in the development. Including highlighting the critical need for a food science expert within the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. 

In addition to the development process for the 2025-2030 Dietary Guidelines, this year the following events will take place with outcomes sure to impact the health and nutrition of Americans for years to come: 

  • White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health
  • The 2018 Farm Bill, is set to expire on Sept. 30, 2023, impacting the agriculture sector

And this July, IFT will convene a debate that poses the question “Should We Eat More Processed Foods?” and explores the pros and cons of food processing. Join us for what is sure to be a thought-provoking discussion.

Additional IFT Resources

As an organization that believes science is essential to ensure the global food system is equitable, sustainable, safe, and nutritious, IFT offers the following resources relevant to the DGA. 

About the Author

Anna Rosales, RD, is the senior director of government affairs and nutrition at IFT.

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