Is your brand ready for the next USDA Dietary Guidelines update?

December 4, 2018

Is your brand ready for the next USDA Dietary Guidelines update?

You don’t just follow best practices. As a leader in the food and beverage industry, you’re looking ahead to see how you can improve on the current standards. The 2020-2025 edition of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans is still in progress, but you can prepare for its release now by staying on top of long-term health trends.

Focus on the big picture

Whether they’re strictly following a diet or just not paying attention, consumers often think about diet one meal at a time. However, the current guidelines emphasize overall eating patterns over specific meals. While there’s certainly nothing wrong with keeping close track of food and beverage consumption, current trends suggest a focus on diet as a whole rather than as a day-to-day exercise.

Moderation is key

The shift in focus from daily to overall eating habits means consumers can, in theory, indulge on occasion as long as they maintain overall healthy eating patterns. That doesn’t mean portion sizes don’t matter anymore or that eating one vegetable makes up for eating three pieces of cake. But it does mean that a person who eats too many sweets one day could make up for it by eating less of them or avoiding altogether for the rest of the week.

Small steps

As the USDA Dietary Guidelines become more accessible to consumers, their recommendations increasingly focus on small, everyday changes people can make on their own. Where guidelines of the past zeroed in on a particular nutrient—increase fiber, avoid fat or saturated fat or lower sodium intake—current trends indicate that the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines might take a more moderate, less prescriptive approach. For example, the report might recommend cutting back on less healthy foods rather than eliminating them altogether, so people can think about shifting to the better, healthier choice one step at a time.

All of these trends de-emphasize extremes.  Anyone looking for nutrition advice on the internet will find no shortage of false claims, but there is little evidence supporting the idea that a typical, healthy individual needs to entirely add or remove a certain food or drink from their diet.  Understanding these shifts may help put upcoming changes in perspective and provide insights into future nutrition policy.

Diane Welland, RD, is a nutrition communications manager at SRA Communications.  SRA, a division of Kellen, is a leading marketing & communications firm of more than 75 talented professionals with broad industry expertise and a proven track record of developing impactful, results-driven programs for a wide range of domestic and international businesses, industries and consumer brands.