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Dear Dietitian – New dietary guidelines coming in December

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PICT Leanne McCrate Dear Dietitian
Leanne McCrate, RDN, LD, CNSC

Dear Readers: The Scientific Report of the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee has been released. The report is based on scientific evidence in nutrition and is issued by a team of  experts, including Registered Dietitians, Medical Doctors, and Doctorates of Nutrition. The information will be used by the Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services to develop the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. These recommendations are made every five years as a road map to help people make healthier food choices and prevent diet-related diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes.

Some dietary instructions will likely remain the same as those released in 2015. Choose a variety of foods from every food group. Select more plant foods. Replace saturated fats (found in animal products) with unsaturated fats (found in plant oils). Choose whole grains instead of refined grains.

For the first time, the guidelines will address the nutrition of children from birth to 2 years of age. The Advisory Committee has recommended breastfeeding infants for at least six months, as this has been shown to decrease the risk of diseases and allergies. It is also recommended to introduce high allergen foods, such as peanuts and eggs, at four to six months of age to help prevent food allergies. Consult your pediatrician before making any dietary changes for your child.

As obesity rates continue to rise in America, the consumption of added sugars is sure to be addressed in the new directives. The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines recommended limiting the consumption of added sugars to less than 10% of total calories. On a 2,000-calorie diet, that equates to 50 grams of added sugars per day. This number may be reduced in the new guidelines. Of note, the American Heart Association recommends women consume no more than 25 grams of added sugars per day and advises men to have less than 38 grams a day.

Another possible change in recommendations is the number of alcoholic beverages consumed. Earlier guidelines recommended one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men. Alcohol consumption has increased in America over the last twenty years, and nearly half of those who drink report binge drinking in the previous month. Binge drinking is defined as five or more drinks during an occasion for men and four or more drinks for women.

There is research that shows that all-cause death increases as average alcohol consumption increases. There is some evidence that more than one drink a day increases death from all causes. The recommendation may be reduced to one alcoholic beverage per day for men and women. 

The official Dietary Guidelines for Americans are expected to be released by December 2020. For more information on the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Scientific Report, go to

Until next time, be healthy!

Dear Dietitian


  1. Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee 2020. Scientific Report of the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee: Advisory Report to the Secretary of Agriculture and the Secretary of Health and Human Services. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Washington, D.C.

Leanne McCrate, RDN, LD, CNSC, aka Dear Dietitian, is an award-winning dietitian based in St. Louis, Missouri. Her mission is to educate consumers on sound, scientifically-based nutrition. Do you have a nutrition question? Email her today at Dear Dietitian does not endorse any products, health programs, or diet plans.