The United States Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services issued new dietary guidelines, which include recommendations for children up to the age of two for the very first time. Also featured in the set of guidelines include alcohol intake for men and a set of recommendations regarding the intake of calories.
Issued on Tuesday, with the intention of “customizing and enjoy nutrient-dense food and beverage choices to reflect personal preferences, cultural traditions, and budgetary considerations” and “meeting food group needs with nutrient-dense foods and beverages, and stay within calorie limits,” the new guidelines dictate much of what Americans of all ages will eat over the next five years and provide a foundation for federal nutrition programs.
For the very first time, the U.S. government dietary guidelines for infants and toddlers, recommend feeding only breast milk for at least six months and no added sugar for children under age 2. This means a child should consume less than 10% of calories per day of added sugars while those younger than 2 years old should avoid foods or beverages with added sugars, including candy, cakes, etc.
Speaking about expanding the guidelines to include infants as well, HHS Secretary Alex Azar said in a statement, “The science tells us that good nutrition leads to better health outcomes, and the new dietary guidelines use the best available evidence to give Americans the information they need to make healthy decisions for themselves and their families. USDA and HHS have expanded this edition of the dietary guidelines to provide new guidance for infants, toddlers, and pregnant and breastfeeding women, helping all Americans to improve their health, no matter their age or life stage.”
According to the guidelines, adults can choose not to drink or drink in moderation by limiting the consumption of two drinks or less in a day for men and one drink or less in a day for women. On the other hand, Parents and guardians should avoid added sugar in a child’s diet, the committee recommended, because of the strong link to childhood obesity and future chronic health conditions.
Referring to products with added sugar, the committee stated, “Nearly 70 percent of added sugars intake comes from five food categories: sweetened beverages, desserts, and sweet snacks, coffee and tea (with their additions), candy and sugars, and breakfast cereals and bars.”
Coming to infants, the guidelines state that, “For about the first 6 months of life, exclusively feed infants human milk. Continue to feed infants human milk through at least the first year of life, and longer if desired,” adding that if human milk is unavailable parents and guardians should feed infants “iron-fortified” formula during the first year of life.