Well-Being Longevity

US government rejects scientific advisors’ recommendations on alcohol and sugar consumption

Story at a glance

  • Although a scientific panel advised reducing recommendations for alcohol and sugar consumption, current limits will remain in place.
  • The U.S. government reviews its Dietary Guidelines every five years.

The U.S. government on Tuesday announced new recommended dietary guidelines that reportedly did not make any changes to the amount of sugar and alcohol consumption recommended for Americans, despite a scientific panel advising otherwise.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the new guidelines take some of the committee’s recommendations into account, including not allowing children under the age of 2 to consume any added sugar at all. 

Added sugars are found in prepared or processed foods, including cookies, sodas and soft drinks, sweetened yogurt and select syrups and cereals.

The advisory panel, which included experts in the field, recommended slashing the limit for added sugars in the diet to 6 percent of daily calories. 

Current guidelines, which will remain unchanged, recommend that added sugars compose 10 percent of Americans’ daily caloric intake. 

The panel also addressed American alcohol consumption, advising that the limit for alcohol be lowered for men from two drinks per day to one, which would make it identical to recommendations for women.  

The U.S. Departments of Agriculture (USDA) and Health and Human Services jointly reviewed the panel’s recommendations after their finalization in July, ultimately coming to the conclusion that there wasn’t enough evidence that altering the recommendations of sugar and alcohol would substantially impact Americans’ health.

“The new evidence is not substantial enough to support changes to quantitative recommendations for either added sugars or alcohol,” Brandon Lipps, deputy undersecretary for food, nutrition and consumer services at the USDA told reporters.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention write about the negative health effects of both excessive alcohol and added sugar consumption. Eating too many added sugars are connected to health problems like type 2 diabetes, heart disease and obesity — all of which are conditions that complicate COVID-19 infections.

Excessive alcohol consumption can also result in similarly serious chronic illnesses, such as high blood pressure, heart disease and cancer. 

The Journal notes that the new Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-25 advise people to focus on consuming fruits, vegetables, lean meats and poultry, whole grains and low-fat dairy.

These recommendations shape many parts of the U.S. food industry, including school lunches and public health promotions.