Executive Summary

The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee was established jointly by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The committee's assignment was to advise the Secretaries of HHS and USDA whether revisions in the 1990 edition of Nutrition and Your Health: Dietary Guidelines for Americans were warranted and, if so, to recommend revisions of the Guidelines to the Secretaries.

The committee commends the excellence of earlier editions of the bulletin and the efforts of their originators. It recognizes that the existing Dietary Guidelines are well established as Federal nutrition policy and serve as the central dietary guidance message for healthy Americans. The committee is also aware of the importance of stability and consistency in messages designed to educate the public about nutrition and health.

The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee believes that some revision of the third edition is warranted. Since the third edition was issued in 1990, scientists have generated additional research on associations between diet and health. Prior to the publication of the third edition, major reviews of the scientific evidence were conducted by the Public Health Service, the National Research Council, and other scientific groups. More recently, the World Health Organization has reviewed this evidence, and the Public Health Service will soon release a review of dietary fat and health. These reports will reinforce various sections of the Dietary Guidelines.

The committee concluded that the messages in the seven guidelines, as presented on the cover of the third edition, remain sound and of major importance in choosing food for a healthful diet. Some changes to the guidelines are proposed. The changes and the reasons for the changes are shown in table 1 (below).

The committee's proposed text for a fourth edition is presented in this report (pages 5-19), and a discussion of the changes appears on pages 20-35. As in the past, the guidelines in the fourth edition are directed to Americans 2 years of age and older.

Finally, the committee would like to direct the attention of the two Departments' Secretaries to additional recommendations on the use, implementation, and future development of the Dietary Guidelines. These can be found on pages 36-37 of this report.

Table 1. Changes Proposed to the front cover

Third Edition Fourth EditionReason for Change
Eat a variety of foodssame
Maintain Healthy WeightBalance the food you eat with physical activity, maintain or improve your weight Increased focus on weight maintenance and physical activity (as a key component of weight maintenance
Choose a diet with plenty of vegetables, fruits and grain products. Choose a diet with plenty of grain products, vegetables, and fruits Consistency with placement on the Food Guide Pyramid
Choose a diet low in fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol same
Use sugars only in moderation Choose a diet moderate in sugars Consistency with other Guidelines' focus on total diet.
If you drink alcoholic beverages, do so in moderation same

The next section of the Report of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee  is the Charge to the Committee.