About the Dietary Guidelines

Purpose

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) jointly publish the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (Dietary Guidelines) every 5 years. Each edition of the Dietary Guidelines reflects the body of nutrition science.

The Dietary Guidelines provides evidence-based food and beverage recommendations for Americans ages 2 and older. These recommendations aim to:

  • Promote health
  • Prevent chronic disease
  • Help people reach and maintain a healthy weight

Public health agencies, health care providers, and educational institutions all rely on Dietary Guidelines recommendations and strategies.

The Dietary Guidelines also has a significant impact on nutrition in the United States because it:

  • Forms the basis of federal nutrition policy and programs
  • Helps guide local, state, and national health promotion and disease prevention initiatives
  • Informs various organizations and industries (e.g., products developed and marketed by the food and beverage industry)

Evolution and Process

The Dietary Guidelines was first released in 1980. In 1990, Congress passed the National Nutrition Monitoring and Related Research Act, which mandates in Section 301 that HHS and USDA jointly review, update, and publish the Dietary Guidelines every 5 years. The current version — the eighth edition of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans — was published in 2015.

The Dietary Guidelines evolves to address pressing public health concerns and the nutrition needs of specific populations. For example, the Dietary Guidelines has historically focused on Americans ages 2 years old and older. But a child's diet from birth — and a person's diet during pregnancy — can have a lasting effect on a child's health.

As a result, beginning in 2020, the Dietary Guidelines will expand to include dietary guidance for infants and toddlers from birth to 24 months and for people who are pregnant. Learn more about the Birth to 24 Months and Pregnancy project

Developing the Guidelines

As the first step in updating the Dietary Guidelines, HHS and USDA select nationally recognized nutrition and medical researchers, academics, and practitioners to serve on the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (Advisory Committee).

The Advisory Committee examines current scientific evidence on nutrition. The Advisory Committee's work culminates with a scientific Advisory Report of its evidence-based recommendations to the federal government for development of the new edition of the Dietary Guidelines.

Members of the public are able to provide comments throughout that process, and this website serves as a platform for submitting and reviewing these comments.

HHS and USDA use information in the Advisory Report, along with comments from the public and federal agencies, to inform the new edition of the Dietary Guidelines.

For information about the independent study on the process to update the Dietary Guidelines conducted by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, Health and Medicine Division, please visit USDA’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion’s website.