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National Academies Releases Final Report with Recommendations to Redesign DGA Process

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

(North American Meat Institute)

USDA and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) should redesign the process for updating the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) to improve transparency, promote diversity of expertise and experience, support a deliberative process, foster independence in decision-making and strengthen scientific rigor, according to a new report released by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. The report, "Redesigning the Process for Establishing the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA)," recommends redistributing the tasks of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) into three separate groups: a Dietary Guidelines Planning and Continuity Group to monitor and curate new evidence, identify and prioritize topics for inclusion in the DGA and provide strategic planning support across DGA cycles; technical expert panels to provide content and methodological consultation during evidence evaluation; and a Dietary Guidelines Scientific Advisory Committee to interpret the scientific evidence and draw conclusions.

The report also recommends that the secretaries of agriculture and HHS provide the public with clear explanations when the DGA omit or accept only parts of conclusions from the DGAC Scientific Report. The secretaries should standardize the methods and criteria for establishing nutrients of concern and should enhance food pattern modeling to better reflect the complex interactions involved, variability in intakes and range of possible healthful diets, according to the report. The report's authors suggest separating the roles of the Nutrition Evidence Library (NEL) staff and the Dietary Guidelines Scientific Advisory Committee (DGSAC), whereby NEL staff would conduct systematic reviews that are externally peer-reviewed prior to being made available for use by the DGSAC, which would then interpret the results and draw conclusions about the entire body of evidence.

The report acknowledges the breadth and content of each DGAC report could vary because not all topics may require a detailed review every five years. Instead, only those topics with enough new data to generate a full review should be considered for in-depth evaluation in the next DGA cycle, the report concludes.

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