If you follow news on the Dietary Guidelines you’ve no doubt read article after article about how some of the past recommendations issued by the previous Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee were not based on strong science.  More nutrition experts are coming out to question the public health community’s habit of dividing foods into “good” and “bad” instead of providing recommendations that are practical, achievable and based on solid science.

Last week, national leaders in food and nutrition policy, public health, academia, industry and government met at The Ohio State University Food Innovation Center’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans Summit to discuss the lapses in government diet advice.

“Dietary guidance is the main entrée on our national menu because good food is good health, but there remains a perplexing gap between well-intentioned policy and real consumer behavior,” said Ken Lee, director of The Ohio State Food Innovation Center, in a statement.

David Just, Leslie Lytle and Robert Murray, professors in behavioral economics, health behavior and nutrition and human nutrition, respectively, examined why the Dietary Guidelines have not been successful in  changing consumer behavior. In their session entitled Understanding What Impacts Consumer Behavior, they explained that recommendations that look good on paper are often not realistic. There is no single perfect diet for everyone, they say.

“We have a lot of debates over the science and it confuses the public greatly…There is an internal tension and you can see it in the 2015 Dietary Guidelines again between this desire for the optimal pattern for health and this prohibition to exclude individual nutrients to get there,” Murray said. “The problem with the Dietary Guidelines is that you’re trying to write one document that encompasses all the science and sell it to all the people the same way.”

We at Sip & Savor agree. Instead of vilifying one nutrient, we encourage the Committee to seek ways to help Americans achieve moderation in their diet.  It’s all about balance.  Balancing calories from all foods and beverages with physical activity supports an active and balanced lifestyle.

You can watch a video recording of the Summit online here.