Newswise — WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics urges Congress to remove harmful and limiting language that has been added to two bills regarding the development process for the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The language appears in Section 232 of the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies FY2016 appropriations bill, and Section 734 of the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies FY2016 appropriations bill.
According to the Academy, this language would limit the Dietary Guidelines by requiring that only evidence rated with a “Grade: Strong” in the Department of Agriculture’s Nutrition Evidence Library be included, and by requiring additional time for public comment and review.
“The language in the appropriations bills would undercut the development process for the Dietary Guidelines,” said registered dietitian nutritionist and Academy Chief Science Officer Alison Steiber. “The establishment of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans was based on the strongest evidence available, not just the evidence that was identified as Grade I: Strong. This would create an inconsistency between recommendations already in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines, some of which are supported by ‘Moderate’ evidence. For example, none of the evidence linking diet to cancer risk would be included in the 2015 Dietary Guidelines.”
Additionally, according to Steiber, setting this precedent would create a higher threshold for making changes in the future, thereby thwarting the Dietary Guidelines from effectively preventing diet-related chronic diseases. “By emphasizing the grading of conclusions from the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, the departments also would be limited in their ability to consider public and agency comments.”
The Academy is also urging language requiring additional public comment periods be removed from the bill.
“The public has already had approximately 24 months to weigh in on the development of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines in addition to 75 days to comment on the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee Scientific Report. An additional public comment period would significantly delay the release of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines, resulting in noncompliance with the law,” Steiber said.
An additional public comment period would also cost the federal government additional resources that were not originally budgeted. This undermines the rigorous scientific approach used as the basis for developing the Dietary Guidelines, is duplicative and wastes federal resources.
The Academy commends the work of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee and the staff at both the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services for consistently producing science-based guidelines that promote good health and prevent chronic disease.
“The Dietary Guidelines provide a crucial basis for federal nutrition policy, identify future research needs and equip health professionals and employers with the tools necessary to benefit the public. Guidelines that provide consistent messages help consumers make healthy choices for themselves and their families,” Steiber said.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is the world’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. The Academy is committed to improving the nation’s health and advancing the profession of dietetics through research, education and advocacy. Visit the Academy at www.eatright.org