For First Time, Proposed Federal Dietary Guidelines Include ‘Sustainability’

For the first time, the proposed federal dietary guidelines released last week go beyond the usual advice to eat more fruits and vegetables to include consideration of “the impact of food production, processing, and consumption on environmental sustainability.”

“Overall, it is clear that environmental sustainability adds further dimensions to dietary guidance; not just what we eat but where and how food production, processing, and transportation are managed, and waste is decreased,” the 15-member 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee noted in Chapter 5 of its latest Scientific Report.

“Linking health, dietary guidance, and the environment will promote human health and the sustainability of natural resources and ensure current and long-term food security,” the report stated, adding that it will “require a paradigm shift to an environment in which population health is a national priority.”

By law, the secretaries of the Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Agriculture (USDA) are required to issue nutritional and dietary guidelines for the general public every five years “based on the preponderance of scientific and medical knowledge current at the time of publication.”