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New Dietary Guidelines (2015 to 2020)

Posted February 2016

Every five years, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (USDHHS) and the U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) jointly publish a report containing nutritional dietary information and guidelines for the general public. The new guidelines were published in December 2015 and are now available as the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

New Overarching Guidelines

The Dietary Guidelines are designed “to help all individuals ages 2 years and older and their families consume a healthy, nutritionally adequate diet” (USDHHS/USDA, 2015). They add to previous guidelines by providing five overarching guidelines:

  1. Follow a healthy eating pattern across the lifespan. All food and beverage choices matter. Choose a healthy eating pattern at an appropriate calorie level to help achieve and maintain a healthy body weight, support nutrient adequacy, and reduce the risk of chronic disease. 
  2. Focus on variety, nutrient density, and amount. To meet nutrient needs within calorie limits, choose a variety of nutrient-dense foods across and within all food groups in recommended amounts. 
  3. Limit calories from added sugars and saturated fats, and reduce sodium intake. Consume an eating pattern low in added sugars, saturated fats, and sodium. Cut back on foods and beverages higher in these components to amounts that fit within healthy eating patterns. 
  4. Shift to healthier food and beverage choices.Choose nutrient-dense foods and beverages across and within all food groups in place of less healthy choices. Consider cultural and personal preferences to make these shifts easier to accomplish and maintain. 
  5. Support healthy eating patterns for all.Everyone has a role in helping to create and support healthy eating patterns in multiple settings nationwide, from home to school to work to communities.

Importance of Physical Activity

The USDHHS/USDA report acknowledges the importance of physical activity as a healthy lifestyle that accompanies healthy eating in promoting healthy living. The report notes that “a large body of evidence now shows that healthy eating patterns and regular physical activity can help people achieve and maintain good health and reduce the risk of chronic disease throughout all stages of the lifespan” (USDHHS/USDA, 2015).


Unlike previous guidelines that have introduced a new model for healthy eating with each new revision, the 2015 report retains MyPlate as the model for healthy eating (see chapter 3 of the guidelines).


U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture. 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. 8th Edition. December 2015. Available at


When referencing this update, feel free to use the following citation:
Corbin, C.B. (February 2016). New Dietary Guidelines (2015-2020). Posted here.