Praise and criticism of the new guidelines

The lack of any recommendation for people to avoid red and processed meats will perhaps be the biggest talking point of the new report. The absence flies in the face of a DGAC preliminary report which was submitted last year and caused a considerable amount of controversy. That report specifically stated that a healthy eating pattern included a “lower consumption of red and processed meat.”

The American Cancer Society (ACS)3 registered their disappointment immediately in a statement which criticized the 2015–2020 Guidelines.  “By omitting specific diet recommendations, such as eating less red and processed meat, these guidelines miss a critical and significant opportunity to reduce suffering and death from cancer,” said Dr. Richard Wender, ACS chief cancer control officer. Chris Hansen, president of ACSs affiliate advocacy group Cancer Action Network (CAN), echoed Dr. Wender’s displeasure. “We are disappointed these guidelines do not completely follow the evidence-based recommendations from the advisory committee,” Hansen said. 

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Not everyone in the healthcare world was disappointed by the guidelines; the American Heart Association (AHA)4 was unanimous in its praise of the report. “This ‘bigger picture’ view of our daily food consumption encourages more personal choice,” said Dr. Mark Creager, the AHA president. “The standards continue to help build a ‘culture of health’ that will reduce our risk for heart disease and stroke,” he added in a statement.

The new guidelines recommend Americans reduce their sodium intake to less than 2,300mg per day, which is still higher than the AHA recommends. However, Dr. Creager conceded that the “new target will help steer more Americans away from salty foods and the risk of developing high blood pressure linked to excess salt intake.”