On July 15, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Department of Human Services (HHS) released the first print of the Scientific Report of the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. For the first time in its history, the report includes dietary recommendations for infants and toddlers.
The report, developed by the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, historically has focused on nutrition recommendations for those age 2 and older, but mounting evidence citing the impact of diet in the first few years of life prompted targeted recommendations for babies and toddlers. Recommendations for children from birth to age 2 include:
- Avoiding foods and beverages with added sugars. The report notes a strong link between added sugars and childhood obesity.
- The report cites evidence that children who are breastfed are less likely to develop type 2 diabetes, obesity, and other risk factors.
- Limiting first solid foods to babies 4 months or older. The report notes that introducing foods too early is associated with increased obesity risk.
- Supplementing vitamin D at 400 International Units (IUs) from birth until the baby is weaned from breast milk.
The report also includes dietary recommendations for young and older children and adults. Some recommendations are aimed at pregnant women, including adopting healthier eating habits and breastfeeding.
The committee’s membership includes 20 national experts appointed by HHS and USDA to review evidence on dietary topics determined by the two agencies. Ultimately, recommendations from these reports are used by the agencies to develop final nutrition guidelines for Americans of all ages. The guidelines are updated every five years.