By RDBA Executive Director Annette Maggi, MS, RDN, LD, FAND
With more than 150 pages plus charts, tables, and references, the latest release of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGAs) is a daunting read. In a webinar hosted by the Institute of Food Technology and lead by Dr. Robert Post, who led CNPP at USDA for several years, it was pointed out that the new document has 51,998 words compared to 3,159 words in the 1980 version. Clearly we’ve come a long way in food and nutrition recommendations for the prevention of disease.
In a review of the newly released DGAs, there are some clear highlights that have impact on the work of retail dietitians, including:
- Eating patterns are more important than individual nutrients. The word pattern was one of the top five words used in the entire 2015-2020 DGA document, according to research by FoodMinds, Inc., underscoring the importance of this shifted focus. It’s also a simpler message for consumers to take action against.
- Focus on individual dietary needs and preferences. Taste, culture, traditions, budget and health needs all impact how the consumers makes food buying and consumption decisions.
- Shifts to more nutrient dense foods are needed to align eating habits with recommended healthy eating patterns. The key categories which the 2015 DGAs indicate shoppers need to choose more often are fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and oils (instead of solid fats). Consumers will be pleased to hear messaging about what they should eat more frequently instead of less often.
- Portion and calorie control are essential. This messaging underscores all sections of the updated DGAs. All consumer messaging should have a focus on portion and calorie control, first and foremost.
The DGAs are a guidance document that only come to life as influencers like retail dietitians put them into action in their consumer engagement. With heightened media attention on the DGAs, your shoppers are likely hearing messages in the news. Refreshing and adding to your messaging and programs, based on the DGAs, is an ideal way to provide repeat messaging that will stick with shoppers.