Nutrition Policy

Dietary Guidelines

Dietary Guidelines

Since 1980, the U.S. government has published the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, updating them every 5 years. These guidelines provide “food-based recommendations to promote health, help prevent diet-related disease, and meet nutrient needs” and are the cornerstone of Federal nutrition policy and nutrition education efforts. As part of the development process, an Advisory Committee is appointed to review the evidence and provide a scientific report to the USDA and HHS who then develop the guidelines.1

Current Edition: 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans

Dietary Guidelines from Americans 2015-2020Recognizing that food groups and nutrients are not eaten in isolation, the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans focuses on overall eating patterns instead of on individual dietary components as in previous editions of the guidelines. The authors recognize that “a healthy eating pattern is not a rigid prescription, but rather, an adaptable framework in which individuals can enjoy foods that meet their personal, cultural and traditional preferences”.2 You can access the full guidelines, visit https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/

The development of the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans is currently underway and expected to be released by the end of 2020.

What do the Dietary Guidelines for Americans say about sugar?

Each version of the guidelines has included a general recommendation for Americans to moderate their intake of sugars. The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans were the first to quantify moderation, recommending Americans limit added sugars to no more than 10% of total calories per day (or 50 grams based on a 2000-calorie diet).2 The recommendation is based on food pattern modeling (a tool used to figure out how you can meet all of your food group recommendations within calorie needs), and the 10% target is an attempt to help individuals move toward healthy eating patterns while staying within calorie limits.

In addition to providing a recommended limit for added sugars, the Dietary Guidelines also recognize the function of added sugars in foods. “Added sugars provide sweetness that can help improve the palatability of foods, help with preservation, and/or contribute to functional attributes such as viscosity, texture, body, color and browning capability.”

References:

  1. Most popular questions about the Dietary Guidelines. 
  2. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, U.S. Department of Agriculture. 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. 8th ed.
Sugar & the Diet
Nutrition Policy

Nutrition Labeling

How can I tell how much added sugars are in my food?

Learn More
Sugar & the Diet

Nutrition Policy

Sugar in federal nutrition and food policy

Learn More

Stay in Touch

Sign Up