Dietary Guidelines: A Tragic Mismatch for Most Americans

Press Release: Dietary Guidelines: A Tragic Mismatch for Most Americans

November 17, 2020
Press Contact: Jessica Wharton

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Low-Carb Action Network (L-CAN) has sent a letter to Secretaries Perdue and Azar of the Departments of Agriculture (USDA) and Health and Human Services (HHS) raising concerns that the 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) are being designed only for “healthy Americans,” who comprise less than 40% of the U.S. population.

L-CAN’s letter makes two requests that would clear up any misconceptions about who the Guidelines are intended to serve:

  1. The final Guidelines should include a prominent statement that its recommendations are “Only for Healthy Americans,” so that those with diet-related chronic diseases will know these Guidelines are not appropriate for them.
  2. USDA should begin work on alternative policy recommendations to inform its Nutrition Assistance Programs, since these programs must be appropriate for all Americans, including not only those who are healthy but also those with diet-related chronic diseases. The DGA is appropriate for the former group but not the latter. Other treatment guidelines need to be identified to select foods for the people in these programs with diet-related chronic diseases.

Today, 60% of Americans have one or more chronic, diet-related disease. This 60% includes 42.4% of adults with obesity[1]. In addition, more than half of Americans have pre-diabetes or type-2 diabetes[2].

L-CAN’s letter states, “The DGA policy has clearly failed to stem the tide of these terrible diseases. Although there can be many explanations for this failure, we would submit that telling the American public to obtain more than half of calories from carbohydrates, including six servings of grains per day, is not a formula for good health. Upon being consumed, the starch in grains converts to sugar instantly in the body—the same as table sugar. Science increasingly shows that the continuous consumption of sugar provokes obesity, diabetes and other metabolic conditions.”

L-CAN submitted 65 low-carb studies to the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) that have, as their primary goal, the mitigation of metabolic conditions that lead to diabetes, obesity, hypertension, and heart disease. The DGAC made the decision to exclude all studies that aimed to reduce obesity. L-CAN has identified an additional 70 low-carbohydrate studies that the DGAC did not consider in its review of scientific literature in which weight loss is not the primary goal.

L-CAN’s letter continues, “The DGA has long stated that its mission is the prevention, not the treatment, of chronic disease. However, the DGA has also stated that helping Americans “reach and maintain a healthy weight” was among its three primary goals[3]. It is therefore inexplicable why the 2020 DGAC decided to exclude all studies that include weight loss as a goal.”

That the Guidelines is only appropriate for healthy Americans is especially a problem when diet-related diseases, including obesity, diabetes, and hypertension, have repeatedly been shown to dramatically increase the risk of complications for Covid-19, including hospitalization, intubation, and death.

L-CAN’s letter concludes, “Because the 2020 DGA process did not include any consideration of studies designed to treat chronic disease, not even obesity, the DGA’s recommendations cannot be considered informed or appropriate for populations with diet-related diseases.”

By ignoring the needs of the majority of Americans, the 2020 Dietary Guidelines are destined to do a great disservice to the American public. All people deserve the opportunity to preserve or reclaim their health through proper nutrition and dietary advice.



The Low-Carb Action Network is a coalition of doctors, academics, advocates, and Americans with personal success stories, urging U.S. nutrition leaders to include a true low-carb diet as part of the 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

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