UEP Urges Dietary Guidelines Focus on Healthy Foods

April 12, 2018

Brain and cognitive health, along with a focus on foods that supply essential nutrients, should be the focus of the 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, UEP said in comments to the federal agencies developing the guidance.

For the first time, the 2020 guidance will offer advice for infants and toddlers – the “birth-to-24-months” or “B-24” period.  Because of this focus, UEP urged federal agencies to gather scientific information about which nutrients are needed for proper development, including the brain and neurological system.

Choline is one such nutrient:  Both the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics have recently placed more emphasis on its role in brain development, including during pregnancy.  Eggs are an excellent source of choline, which is also important throughout the lifetime.

UEP also encouraged the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services to recommend that people get their nutrients through food, not supplements, so it is important to focus on those foods that supply beneficial nutrients.  The 2015 Dietary Guidelines emphasized “dietary patterns,” like the Mediterranean diet.  But UEP said the federal agencies should also research whether “intakes of established food groups and individual foods under the [dietary] patterns [are] sufficient to achieve nutrient adequacy.”

UEP’s comments were submitted as part of an effort by USDA and HHS to increase public involvement in the Dietary Guidelines, including input on the scientific research questions that will form the basis of developing the 2020 version.  UEP also recommended against re-hashing controversies that have already been settled, noting that “the science on dietary cholesterol is now well-established,” shows no connection between cholesterol in the diet and “bad” cholesterol in the blood, and does not need to be reviewed for 2020.