Tainted by Industry: The US Dietary Guidelines . . . Again


Right on target for the 2025 update to the US Dietary Guidelines, the Advisory Committee held its work sessions last week, as they do every 5 years.  The committee is a joint venture of the US Department of Agriculture and the US Department of Health and Human Services.  Most people underestimate the importance of the Dietary Guidelines, yet they are the basis for what food is served to health care facilities, K-12 schools, prisons, government-funded nutrition programs (e.g. WIC), and the military.  Also, they greatly influence many other countries throughout the world.

It’s no surprise that I am not a fan of the US Dietary Guidelines.  The guidelines were never based on evidence, and it’s unlikely that they ever will be.  Instead, they are tainted by politics, industry influence, etc.

Not surprisingly, there is no public disclosure of these conflicts of interest that exist among members of the Advisory Committee.  Among the committee for the 2020 Dietary Guidelines, 95% of the members were found to have conflicts of interest with food and/or pharmaceutical industries.  Several companies (Kellogg, Abbott, Kraft, Mead Johnson, General Mills, Dannon, and the International Life Sciences Institute) had connections with multiple members.

For the current committee, it was revealed in 2023 that 9 out of the 20 members of the 2025 advisory committee have conflicts of interest, and potentially 4 more – see the details along with dollar figures in this formal report.  Industry players that have connections to multiple members include: Abbott, Novo Nordisk, National Dairy Council, Eli Lilly, and Weight Watchers (WW) International.

Once again, we will be fed another bad batch of dietary guidelines in 2025, tainted with industry influence.

There may be a small improvement in this edition of the Dietary Guidelines, however.  There has been much public criticism of the guidelines being applicable only to healthy American adults, thereby being relevant only for a minority of the population.  Congress has apparently finally heard the outrage and has directed the USDA to include a dietary pattern for the treatment of diet-related diseases.

There remain many other shortcomings of the Dietary Guidelines, which have ignored large areas of nutrition research and research on weight loss.   As always, read with caution.

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