National Academies' review of dietary guidelines process acknowledges its strong science base, recommends greater transparency

National Academies Review of Dietary Guidelines Process Acknowledges its Strong Science Base, Recommends Greater Transparency

Statement of CSPI Health Promotion Policy Director Jim O’Hara

The National Academies’ report, “Redesigning the Process for Establishing the Dietary Guidelines for Americans,” makes two critical points.  First, while the process of evaluating scientific evidence could be strengthened, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans are based on solid scientific methods.  Second, improvements to make the process more transparent will bolster trust in the government’s advice to consumers.

As to the first point, Dr. Robert M. Russell, professor emeritus at the Tufts University School of Medicine and chair of the committee that wrote the report, said in his preface: “After extensive evaluation, we found that the current methods being used in the DGA process—original systematic reviews; existing systematic reviews, meta-analyses, and reports; food pattern modeling; and descriptive data analysis—are indeed appropriate.”

As for transparency, the report recommended that the Guidelines should “explicitly” note any “omissions or deviations” from recommendations provided by the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. This echoes the recommendation made by CSPI and others in comments to the National Academies. In these times, transparency is needed more than ever.

Of course, what the country really needs are policies that help Americans eat according to the sensible, science-based advice in the Guidelines.  Contrary to much reporting of pendulums swinging back and forth, the advice in the Guidelines has been rather consistent over the years.