Official name

Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025.

Publication year

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans is the cornerstone of the Federal nutrition policy and education activities for the United States. Since 1980, the Dietary Guidelines has been updated and issued every five years. The 9th and current edition-Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025was published in December 2020. The previous eight editions can be found on DietaryGuidelines.gov.

Stakeholder involvement

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) are responsible for updating and releasing the Dietary Guidelines on behalf of the U.S. government. This includes identifying topics and questions for scientific review, oversight of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee to ensure compliance with the Federal Advisory Committee Act, and providing opportunities for public input.

Products, Resources and Target audiences


Target audience

Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025

Provides advice for the general public written for policymakers and nutrition and health professionals

Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025 Executive Summary

Policymakers and nutrition and health professionals

The Scientific Report of the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee & Online Only Supplementary Material

· Data Analysis Supplements

· Food Pattern Modeling Supplements

· Systematic Reviews

Primary: policymakers

Secondary: nutrition and health professionals and researchers

Small Changes Matter. Start Simple with MyPlate Today (brochure)

General public

Make Every Bite Count (infographic)

Nutrition and health professionals, and general public

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans Can Help You Eat Healthy To Be Healthy (infographic)

Nutrition and health professionals, and general public

USDA-HHS Process to Develop the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025 (Infographic)

Nutrition and health professionals, and general public

What’s the Difference Between the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee Report & the Dietary Guidelines for Americans?

Nutrition and health professionals, and general public

DietaryGuidelines.gov (website)

Policymakers, nutrition and health professionals, and general public

MyPlate.gov (website)

General public, nutrition and health professionals

Toolkit for Professionals

Nutrition and health professionals, and general public

Development process

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans provides advice on what to eat and drink to meet nutrient needs, promote health, and prevent disease. It is developed and written for a professional audience, including policymakers, healthcare providers, nutrition educators, and Federal nutrition program operators.

USDA and HHS have evolved the process to update the Dietary Guidelines over time, in step with advancements in nutrition science, public health, and best practices in scientific review and guidance development. Each edition of the Dietary Guidelines builds on the one that came before it. Once released, the new edition of the Dietary Guidelines replaces the previous edition. The release of the new edition is communicated to nutrition and health professionals within and outside of the Federal government for broad implementation.

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The process to update the Dietary Guidelines is a multi-year-multi-step process. The call for public comments on the topics and questions to be examined by the Committee occurred on February 28, 2018, the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee held six meetings between March 28, 2019 and June 17, 2020, and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025 was released on December 29, 2020. The USDA and HHS coordinated each of the stakeholders to update the Dietary Guidelines as follows:

1. Federal Advisory Committee

The Departments use an external Federal Advisory Committee to review the current body of nutrition science. The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee includes nationally recognized scientific experts in nutrition and medicine. Members are appointed to the Committee based on their scientific expertise and not to represent the viewpoint of a specific interest group. The product of the Committee’s work is a scientific report that is provided to the Secretaries of Agriculture and Health and Human Services.

The Committee was asked to look at nutrition science collectively to inform its report, rather than using individual scientific studies or personal testimonies. The Committee used three approaches to examine the evidence: 1) systematic reviews to search, evaluate, and synthesize the body of nutrition research on a specific topic; 2) data analysis to evaluate the health of Americans and their diets; and 3) food pattern modeling to examine how changes to the amounts or types of foods and beverages in a dietary pattern might affect meeting nutrient needs. To promote transparency, the Committee discussed all of its work in public meetings and supporting materials were provided to the public through DietaryGuidelines.gov.

2. Public comment

The public was encouraged to provide input, through a public comment process, at various times throughout the development process. Before the Committee was established, the public was invited to provide comments on the topics and scientific questions to be examined by the Committee and to nominate individuals for Committee membership. During the period of time the Committee was reviewing the evidence, the public was invited to give written comments and oral testimony to the Committee. Public comments were encouraged on the evidence under review by the Committee. After the Committee’s scientific report was submitted to the Departments, the public had the chance to give written comments as well as oral comments on the report at a public meeting.

3. Developing the Dietary Guidelines for Americans

The Dietary Guidelines is written by a team of Federal staff from USDA and HHS. The draft Dietary Guidelines went through several rounds of review and revisions including 1) technical review by Federal scientists, 2) external peer review, and 3) USDA and HHS Departmental Clearance, which culminated with the Secretaries of USDA and HHS. Ultimately, the document was reviewed by all Agencies with nutrition policies and programs across USDA and HHS, such as the National Institutes for Health, Food and Drug Administration, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Agriculture Research Service, Food and Nutrition Service, and Food Safety and Inspection Service.

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More details on the process and stakeholder engagement are summarized in the Introduction of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025 and at the ‘About the Process’ page on DietaryGuidelines.gov.


The U.S. Government uses the Dietary Guidelines as the basis of its food assistance and meal programs, nutrition education efforts, and decisions about national health objectives. For example, the National School Lunch Program and the Older Americans Act Nutrition Program use the Dietary Guidelines to develop program requirements; the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children applies the Dietary Guidelines in its program and educational materials; and the Healthy People objectives for the United States include objectives based on the Dietary Guidelines.

The Dietary Guidelines also provides a critical structure for State and local public health promotion and disease prevention initiatives. In addition, it provides foundational, evidence-based nutrition guidance for use by individuals and those who serve them in public and private settings, including health professionals, public health and social service agencies, health care and educational institutions, researchers, agricultural producers, food and beverage manufacturers, and more.


The U.S. Government monitors and evaluates the dietary intake of the U.S. population through analysis of nationally representative food consumption data collected in What We Eat in America, National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (WWEIA, NHANES) and other Federal, nationally representative data to gain insights into current eating habits of the U.S. population and current diet-related chronic disease rates in the United States.

Food guide

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s food icon, MyPlate, serves as a reminder to help individuals make healthier food choices. The MyPlate icon emphasizes the fruits, vegetables, grains, protein foods, and dairy groups. Its core messages focus on each of the 5 food groups:

  1. Focus on whole fruit
  2. Vary your veggies
  3. Make half your grains whole grains
  4. Vary your protein routine
  5. Move to low-fat or fat-free dairy milk or yogurt (or lactose-free dairy or fortified soy versions)


Make every bite count with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025. Here’s how:

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

At every life stage—infancy, toddlerhood, childhood, adolescence, adulthood, pregnancy, lactation, and older adulthood—it is never too early or too late to eat healthfully.

  • 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. Feed infants iron-fortified infant formula during the first year of life when human milk is unavailable. Provide infants with supplemental vitamin D beginning soon after birth.
  • At about 6 months, introduce infants to nutrient-dense complementary foods. Introduce infants to potentially allergenic foods along with other complementary foods. Encourage infants and toddlers to consume a variety of foods from all food groups. Include foods rich in iron and zinc, particularly for infants fed human milk.
  • From 12 months through older adulthood, follow a healthy dietary pattern across the lifespan to meet nutrient needs, help achieve a healthy body weight, and reduce the risk of chronic disease.
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2. Customize and enjoy nutrient-dense food and beverage choices to reflect personal preferences, cultural traditions, and budgetary considerations.

A healthy dietary pattern can benefit all individuals regardless of age, race, or ethnicity, or current health status. The Dietary Guidelines provides a framework intended to be customized to individual needs and preferences, as well as the foodways of the diverse cultures in the United States.

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

The core elements that make up a healthy dietary pattern include:

  • Vegetables of all types—dark green; red and orange; beans, peas, and lentils; starchy; and other vegetables
  • Fruits, especially whole fruit
  • Grains, at least half of which are whole grain
  • Dairy, including fat-free or low-fat milk, yogurt, and cheese, and/or lactose-free versions and fortified soy beverages and yogurt as alternatives
  • Protein foods, including lean meats, poultry, and eggs; seafood; beans, peas, and lentils; and nuts, seeds, and soy products
  • Oils, including vegetable oils and 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.

Limits are:

  • Added sugars—Less than 10 percent of calories per day starting at age 2. Avoid foods and beverages with added sugars for those younger than age 2.
  • Saturated fat—Less than 10 percent of calories per day starting at age 2.
  • Sodium—Less than 2,300 milligrams per day—and even less for children younger than age 14.
  • Alcoholic beverages—Adults of legal drinking age can choose not to drink or to drink in moderation by limiting intake to 2 drinks or less in a day for men and 1 drink or less in a day for women, when alcohol is consumed. There are some adults who should not drink alcohol, such as women who are pregnant.


Sustainability was not formally defined or addressed in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025.