1,000 Days’ Oral Comment for the Second Meeting of the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee

Thank you for the opportunity to provide comments at today’s meeting. My name is Lucy Sullivan and I am the Executive Director of 1,000 Days, the leading nonprofit organization working to ensure that women and children everywhere have the healthiest first 1,000 days.

The 1,000 days between a woman’s pregnancy and her child’s 2nd birthday are a window of opportunity to set the trajectory for a person’s lifelong health and build the foundation of a child’s brain and future potential. The first 1,000 days are also a time when food preferences and eating habits begin to take shape.

It is why we at 1,000 Days believe that the P-24 dietary guidelines can play a critical role in helping to build a healthier future for America. Not only are these the first-ever dietary guidelines for pregnant women and children under 2 in the U.S., they are the first-ever set anywhere in the world.

This is why the Committee must ensure these guidelines are based on the best, independent science and that these guidelines are protected from industry influence and interference. There is simply too much at stake for these particular guidelines to become a tool of private profit over public health. The integrity of these guidelines along with the transparency in the process to develop them are of paramount importance.

It is critical that the guidelines cover the following three areas:

  • First: Nutrition during pregnancy and lactation. This includes both foods to choose and foods to avoid and a message around eating twice as healthy, not twice as much. Expectant mothers want to know what foods are best for their health and their growing baby, not just nutrients.
  • Second: Consistent with long-standing recommendations from public health authorities such as the World Health Organization, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Academy of Pediatrics, the guidelines must reinforce that breastfeeding is the best possible source of nutrition for infants and that infants should be breastfed exclusively for the first 6 months, followed by continued breastfeeding to at least one year with the addition of appropriate, nutritious complementary food. If breastfeeding is not available, human donor milk is the next best alternative, followed by infant formula if neither breastfeeding nor human milk feeding are available. It is essential that the guidelines also speak to the extraordinary health benefits of breastfeeding for mothers—reducing their risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure. Breastfeeding is also a key strategy to reduce America’s scandalous infant mortality rate. For example, breastfeeding protects against Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), a leading cause of death among infants in the U.S., particularly black infants.
  • Third: Clear guidance on introducing a diverse diet of fruits, vegetables, meats and other complementary foods and the transition to the family diet.

We know that many Committee Members share our commitment to ensuring that every child in America has a healthy first 1,000 days and trust that the Committee will carry out their work with the utmost integrity and transparency. Thank you to all of the Committee members for their service and thank you for the opportunity to provide comment.