Did you know that 75% of people have dietary patterns that are low in vegetables, fruits, and dairy? In addition, research shows that 60% of American adults have one or more diet-related chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, liver disease and some types of cancer, many of which are preventable with diet and lifestyle changes.

We know that the foods and beverages we consume have a profound impact on our health, and that consuming a healthy dietary pattern can reduce the risk of diet-related chronic diseases. With this in mind, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently released the 2020–2025 Dietary Guidelines, which focus on encouraging healthy eating at every age.

The 2020–2025 Dietary Guidelines contain four overarching guidelines that can help you and your employees identify where you may need to make changes to achieve healthy eating patterns.

1. Follow a healthy dietary pattern at every stage of life.

Healthy dietary patterns can be achieved from infancy to childhood, adolescence into adulthood, pregnancy, lactation, and older adulthood. It’s never too late or early to begin making healthier choices. General recommendations include:

  • For about the first 6 months of life: Exclusively feed infants human milk or iron-fortified infant formula, and provide infants with supplemental vitamin D
  • At about 6 months: Introduce infants to nutrient-dense foods, potentially allergenic foods, and encourage them to consume a variety of foods
  • From 12 months through older adulthood: Consume a healthy dietary pattern to meet nutrient needs, assist in achieving a healthy body weight and reduce the risk of chronic disease

2. Customize and enjoy nutrient-dense food and beverage choices to reflect personal preferences, cultural traditions, and budgetary considerations.

The Dietary Guidelines can benefit all individuals regardless of age, race or ethnicity, or current health status. They are to be used as a framework that can be customized to the individuals needs and preferences.

3. Focus on meeting food group needs with nutrient-dense foods and beverages and stay within calorie limits.

The Dietary Guidelines encourages individuals to meet nutrient needs from foods and beverages, preferably nutrient-dense foods, and beverages. This means they provide vitamins, minerals and have little to no added sugars, saturated fat, and sodium. The core elements include:

  • Vegetables: All types; red and orange, dark green, beans, peas, and other vegetables
  • Fruits: Preferably whole fruits
  • Grains: At least half of which are whole grain
  • Dairy: Try to consume low-fat or fat-free options
  • Protein foods: Lean meats, poultry, eggs, seafood, beans, peas, lentils, nuts, and seeds
  • Oils: Vegetable oils, oils in food, such as seafood and nuts

4. Limit foods and beverages higher in added sugars, saturated fat, and sodium, and limit alcoholic beverages.

According to the Dietary Guidelines, a healthy dietary pattern doesn’t have much room for extra added sugars, saturated fat, sodium, or alcoholic beverages. In limited amounts and when accompanied by a dietary pattern focused on nutrient- dense foods, they can be consumed to meet food group recommendations.

  • Added sugars: Less than 10% of calories per day starting at age 2
  • Saturated fat: Less than 10% of calories per day starting at age 2
  • Sodium: Less than 2,300mg per day, and even less for children younger than 14
  • Alcoholic beverages: 2 drinks or less for men and 1 drink or less in a day for women

For more information on the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines, visit https://www.dietaryguidelines.gov/.

We are here to make sure your employees are encouraged, educated and equipped to make healthy choices. To learn how we can help make a difference in your organization, contact a Marsh McLennan Agency (MMA) advisor.

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