The Nutrition Policy Institute at the University of California, Agriculture and Natural Resources has commented in support of the US Department of Agriculture's "Child Nutrition Programs: Revisions to Meal Patterns Consistent With the 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans" proposed new “durable” rule, which would enhance school nutrition standards. The proposed rule aligns school meal nutrition requirements with the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA), as required by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. NPI welcomes and strongly supports the USDA's proposed limits on added sugars in school lunch and breakfast program meals. Extensive research has linked the consumption of added sugars to chronic diseases such as obesity, metabolic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and fatty liver disease, cardiovascular disease, and dental decay. However, NPI added an important caveat to the proposed limits on added sugars, stating, “Nutrition Policy Institute strongly recommends that the USDA include language in the rule that restricts substitute sweeteners (e.g., artificial sweeteners, low and non-caloric sweeteners) in school meals, and explicitly not allow product reformulations that use substitute sweeteners in place of added sugars until such time as studies are conducted to assure our nation's children of their long-term safety.” Additionally, NPI commended the USDA for their inclusion of whole grains, reduced sodium, increased variety of fruits and vegetables, and traditional food options for Indigenous children, and for investment in technical assistance to school districts through the Healthy Meals Incentive Program. NPI points out that the US population is largely unhealthy, with only 12% of Americans metabolically healthy, and concludes that setting strong nutrition standards for school meals would help support the nutrition and health of more than 30 million school-age children receiving school lunches, and 15 million children receiving school breakfasts. The public comment window for the proposed revisions closes on May 10, 2023.
Healthy Eating Research (HER), a program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, conducted a rapid Health Impact Assessment (HIA) to understand how improving school nutrition standards could impact the nutritional quality of school meals, school meal participation, student dietary consumption, students' health and wellbeing, and academic performance. The HIA features several studies conducted by the Nutrition Policy Institute, including a study showing the effectiveness of removing flavored milk from schools in reducing added sugar intake without compromising the intake of milk-related nutrients. Another showed that schools successfully implemented the school meal nutrition standards per the 2010 Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act. It also features a study showing that limiting competitive foods offered in California schools didn't lead to significant revenue loss and improved schools adherence to nutrition standards. Overall, the HIA evidence reviewed suggests that aligning school meal nutrition standards with the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans could have significant positive implications for child nutrition and health and is likely to increase student participation in school meal programs, improve food security, increase school food service revenue, and improve academic performance.
Development of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2025-2030 (DGA) is underway. The US Department of Health and Human Services and the US Department of Agriculture recently asked for public comments on the proposed scientific questions to be examined in the review of evidence supporting the development of the DGA. Nutrition Policy Institute's senior policy advisor, Christina Hecht, submitted comments to the US Department of Health and Human Services and the US Department of Agriculture regarding scientific questions related to sugar-sweetened beverages and drinking water to be examined to support the development of the DGA. The public comment period was open from April 15 to May 16, 2022. Public comments are available to the public online through Regulations.gov. HHS and USDA will consider all public comments posted to Regulations.gov in relation to the specified criteria. Comments will be used to prioritize the scientific questions to be examined by the 2025 DGA Advisory Committee. In the coming months, HHS and USDA will seek nominations from the public for the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. Sign up to receive email updates on the DGA development process and other related news.
The National Drinking Water Alliance, coordinated by the Nutrition Policy Institute, developed and submitted a recent comment in response to the Scientific Report of the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. The comment, addressed to U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Health & Human Services' officials responsible for translation of the science in the report into the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGAs), focused on the attention that the next DGAs should give to drinking water in place of sugar-sweetened beverages. The comment had 97 signatories, including 23 organizations, as well as 74 researchers, health professionals and advocates, among them, Glenda Humiston, PhD, Vice President of the University of California (UC) Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, and 25 UC scientists. The comment asks for clear, actionable advice in the 2020-2025 DGAs that will help encourage the American public to drink water in lieu of sugar-sweetened beverages. It urges USDA to add a symbol for water to the MyPlate graphic and other educational messaging. Read the full comment and see all the signatories here.