Every five years, a federal panel re-writes the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which constitutes Washington’s official nutrition policy. These guidelines, developed in tandem by HHS and USDA, are to be “based on the preponderance of scientific and medical knowledge currently available,” and dictate the government’s approach to food stamps, school lunches, and food procurement for the military.
Official recommendations for the 2015 dietary guidelines are currently being developed by 15 members of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC). But this time the committee has apparently taken the unusual step of expanding the scope of its mission into issues like sustainability and plant-based diets rather than focusing on its core purpose of providing sound, scientifically-based advice for a well-balanced set of dietary options accessible to the general public.
The rationale for the federal government to provide advice on diet rests on the ability of that advice to improve health outcomes. However, by wading into peripheral policy areas tangential to the eating habits of most Americans, the government risks undermining its ability to speak clearly and effectively to most Americans—potentially making for a less healthy America.
Congressman Reid Ribble (WI-08), a member of the House Committee on Agriculture, joined scholars from Hudson Institute and the Independent Women’s Forum for a discussion of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the implications of the DGAC’s current direction. Hudson Senior Fellow Hanns Kuttner presented his recent paper, How to Sustain Sound Dietary Guidelines for Americans.