“New” USDA dietary guidelines—same old mistakes

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) just made a really big boo-boo.

Honestly, I don’t know what has happened to all of these federal agencies. (Well, I have a few guesses, but we’ll save that conversation for another time.) But judging by this latest move, they have gotten more ignorant than ever…

The more things change

In case you didn’t hear, the government just released new 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. And for the first time, they include guidance for infants and toddlers, too.

But for some reason, they neglected to reduce allowances for added sugar and alcohol—as they felt “there was not a preponderance of evidence in the material the committee reviewed to support specific changes.”

Just to be clear, the new dietary guidelines suggest limiting sugar and alcohol. But the maximum quantities were not reduced—despite strong recommendations to do so from the scientific advisory committee.

In fact, the USDA’s advisory committee wanted them to reduce their recommended maximum sugar intake from less than 10 percent to less than 6 percent. Yet no changes were made!

Have they gone mad? Just one look at how the diabesity epidemic is gripping the nation should be more than enough evidence that something needs to change.

This type of behavior really makes you wonder what the average body mass index (BMI) of the people responsible for these recommendations is. Because for the next five years, it looks like we’ll be stuck with their slogan: “Make Every Bite Count.”

Granted, they state that before the age of 2, foods and beverages with added sugars should be avoided. But it makes you wonder why they think anyone of any age should be touching the stuff at all!?

Of course, you already know my mantra: Sugar kills! And we don’t need added sugars in our diet at all. Period. (Even the slowpokes over at the American Heart Association have jumped on this bandwagon by now.)

And guess what? Most alcohol contains a ton of added sugar, too. Not to mention, alcohol abuse is detrimental to your health… and is linked to an increased risk of dementia. Which is why I always advise being mindful of your alcohol intake, and to stick with clear liquors without sugary mixers. (Think vodka and club soda instead of Jack and Coke.)

But what about the additional recommendations? Well, let’s take a closer look…

More meaningless “guidance”  

As usual, these “new” official recommendations say everything and nothing all at once:

1.) Follow a healthy dietary pattern at every life stage. What does this even mean? Are we meeting specific nutrient needs? Is the goal to maintain a certain body weight, and if so, what is that weight? What does “healthy” even entail here?

2.) Customize nutrient-dense food and beverage choices to reflect preferences, cultural traditions, and budgets. I understand the budgets and cultural traditions part, but preferences… really? What if it’s my “preference” to eat cake and ice cream all day, every day? They call this guidance?!

3.) Focus on meeting dietary needs from five food groups—vegetables, fruits, grains, dairy and fortified soy alternatives, and proteins—and stay within calorie limits. Well, here we go talking about calories again—despite debunking the “calories in, calories out” misconception, I don’t know, a gazillion times! Meanwhile, “fortified soy alternatives” is just shorthand for unhealthy, overly processed Frankenfoods. And that fact that they list protein last is a tall-tale sign they have no clue about nutrition.

4.) Limit foods and beverages that are higher in added sugars, saturated fat, and sodium, and limit alcoholic beverages. We’ve already discussed the sugar and alcohol part of this recommendation. But it’s worth noting that the rest of these recommendations have flimsy support to say the least. Saturated fat can be a bona fide health food, especially where your metabolic health is concerned. And let me remind you that our bodies need sodium to work.

Bottom line: Considering the nonsensical approach of these “new” guidelines, I suppose nothing should shock me—including the ever-increasing rates of diabesity in this country. And unfortunately, it only gets worse.

I’ll break down more of the USDA Dietary Guideline nonsense on Thursday. So stay tuned! And in the meantime, continue tuning into my Reality Health Check e-letter and monthly Logical Health Alternatives newsletter to learn more about what dietary choices you should be making.


“New Dietary Guidelines Omit Recommended Cuts to Sugar, Alcohol Intake.” Medscape Medical News, 12/29/2020. (medscape.com/viewarticle/943344)