Health Experts Share Much-Anticipated Recommendations for New Dietary Guidelines

The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) released their Scientific Report in advance of the upcoming 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. This report represents a systematic review of all data and research analyzed by the DGAC since commencing their work in early 2019 and provides an important preview of the upcoming guidelines.

For the first time, the 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans will include specific recommendations for the diets of infants and children from birth to 24 months of age. This inclusion, along with the guidance for pregnant and lactating women, is critical as the 1,000-day window between a woman’s pregnancy and her child’s second birthday sets the foundation for a child’s long-term health and wellbeing. Access to high quality nutrition during this period is fundamental. 

Today’s Scientific Report includes several important findings on the diets of moms and babies in the 1,000-day window:

  • A woman’s health during her pregnancy is heavily influenced by her pre-pregnancy diet, underlining the importance of developing lifelong healthy eating patterns.
  • A healthy diet during pregnancy reduces the risk for certain pregnancy-related health conditions, like gestational diabetes and hypertensive disorders, and it reduces the risk of preterm birth.
  • Babies who were ever breastfed were found to have reduced risk of overweight and obesity, type 1 diabetes, and asthma
  • No amount of added sugar should be included for a baby’s development
  • Infant and child diets during the 1,000-day window affect their palate and taste for certain food into adulthood.  Children younger than 24-months should avoid consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages, both to reduce risk of childhood overweight and to prevent likelihood of greater sugar-sweetened beverage intake later in life.
  • Food insecurity is a persistent and pernicious threat to healthy development, with more than 6 million American children living in households with inconsistent or insufficient access to healthy, affordable food. Black, Latino, and low-income families, as well as families with young children and single-parent households were more likely to be food insecure

The Committee also noted that, due to a dearth of research on the diets of infants and children before the age of 2, they were unable to establish specific dietary recommendations, but did provide several examples of healthy food patterns for babies and toddlers. 

We look forward to the final Dietary Guidelines, expected to be released by HHS and USDA later this year, and continue to encourage the Committee to ensure these guidelines are based on the best, independent data and research. The health of moms, babies, their families, communities and our nation depend on it.