Sugar Producer

March 2021

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28  Sugar Producer MARCH 2021 Science Prevails over  Opinion New Dietary Guidelines maintain 10 percent added sugars recommendation THE DIETARY GUIDELINES FOR AMERICANS Approximately every five years since 1980, the federal government has released the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA). These guidelines, developed by the U.S. Departments of Agriculture (USDA) and Health and Human Services (HHS), are informed by a review of the available science on food and health by external (primarily academic) experts who make up the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC). The DGAs have a significant impact on U.S. food and agriculture, as they are the cornerstone of federal nutrition policy, including programs like school lunch, and serve as the authoritative dietary advice to the American public. Given their importance, it is critical they be derived using an objective and transparent approach to evaluate the strongest science. Yet this has not been the case for all the DGA recommendations over the course of their 40-year history — a history where controversy seems to arise, always questioning the strength of the science behind at least one of the recommendations. SUGAR RECOMMENDATIONS IN PAST DGAS When it comes to sugar and added sugars, each version of the guidelines has included a general recommendation for Americans to moderate their consumption (i.e., "avoid too much sugar" in 1990; "reduce intake of calories from added sugars" in 2010). However, the 2015-20 DGAs were the first to quantify what moderation of intake of added sugars actually means, recommending Americans limit added sugars to no more than 10 percent of total calories per day (50 grams based on a 2,000-calorie diet). This recommendation was not based on any relationship between added sugars and health outcomes, but on food pattern modeling (a tool used to figure out how to meet all of your food group recommendations within calorie needs). Essentially, the premise for a 10 percent limit on calories from added sugars is that you only have so many calories to consume in a day, and once all of the calories to achieve your food group needs are accounted for, there are only so many calories left over. These "leftover" calories are how added sugars and fats recommendations are determined. 2020-25 DIETARY GUIDELINES Released Dec. 29, 2020, by USDA and HHS, the new guidelines emphasize that a healthy dietary pattern is not a rigid prescription, but rather a customizable framework of core elements. The 2020-25 DGAs suggest we "Make every bite count" by following these four guidelines: 1. Follow a healthy dietary pattern at every life stage 2. Customize and enjoy nutrient-dense food and beverage choices to reflect personal preferences, cultural traditions and budgetary considerations 3. Focus on meeting food group needs with nutrient-dense foods and beverages and stay within calorie limits 4. Limit foods and beverages higher in added sugars, saturated fat and sodium, and limit alcoholic beverages ADDED SUGARS RECOMMENDATION Without completing its planned, comprehensive review of the scientific evidence, the 2020-25 DGAC recommended a reduction of the added sugars limit to 6 percent of total calories. This recommendation was based on the same food pattern modeling exercise employed in 2015, and not on new science related to any health outcomes — or any new science at all. However, despite this strict and unprecedented (the lowest added sugars intake recorded in the U.S. is 11 percent in 1909) recommendation receiving a lot of noise over the summer, USDA and HHS sided with strong scientific evidence and maintained the recommendation of 10 percent. As stated by USDA and HHS in the press release announcing the new guidelines, "Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-25, carried forward the committee's emphasis on limiting these dietary components, but did not include changes to quantitative recommendations, as there was not a preponderance of evidence in the material the committee reviewed to support specific changes, as required by law." The 2020-25 DGAs give a little more context to the 10 percent recommendation, providing a visual representation of the food pattern modeling used to derive the added sugars limit: "Most of the calories a person needs to eat each day — around 85 percent — are needed to meet food group recommendations healthfully, in nutrient-dense forms. The remaining calories — around 15 percent— are calories available for other uses, including for added sugars or FROM THE SUGAR ASSOCIATION Courtney Gaine, R.D., Ph.D. | President & CEO

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