On July 15, US Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services released the Scientific Report of the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, which will serve as the foundation for the Dietary Guidelines. The publication of this report opens the 60-day public comment period and Produce Marketing Association will actively engage with the academic and regulatory communities to ensure that fresh fruits and vegetables continue to be at heart of healthy, nutritious diets.
“We recognize that dietary advice through the years has encouraged Americans to consume more fruits and vegetables, and yet consumption statistics show that Americans remain woefully short of the goal,” said PMA’s Chief Science Officer, Dr. Max Teplitski. “PMA is committed to partnering with public, private, academic and non-profit communities to ensure that the tide of chronic illness resulting from poor nutrition is reversed.”
This report is published against a backdrop that we have never experienced. While the COVID-19 pandemic put an acute unexpected pressure on the global health care system, the undercurrent of the impact of chronic disease prevalence is poised to turn into a tsunami that will overwhelm the healthcare system for decades.
The authors of the report note that more than 70 percent of Americans are overweight or obese, and the prevalence of severe obesity has increased over the past 2 decades. Diet, the report notes, is a modifiable factor that is critically relevant to the prevention of many chronic illnesses that are the leading cause of disability and death in the US, and most certainly around the globe.
The report is also unequivocal in that common characteristics of dietary patterns associated with positive health outcomes include higher intake of vegetables and fruits (along with legumes, whole grains and nuts, low- and nonfat dairy, lean meat and poultry, seafood and unsaturated fats.)
Furthermore, the report identifies 3 food patterns (Healthy U.S.-Style Pattern, the Healthy Vegetarian Pattern, and the Healthy Mediterranean-Style Pattern) that align with the positive health outcomes, as they provide the majority of energy from plant-based foods including fresh vegetables and fruits. PMA welcomes the Committee’s conclusion that the types of foods that define healthy diets are learned in earliest days of life and they can support lifelong chronic disease risk reduction and improved quality of life.
“At PMA, our vision is to grow a healthier world, with a focus on increased consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables,” said Teplitski. “We are encouraged by the appropriate emphasis on fruit and vegetable consumption in the report. I’m looking forward to working with our partners and members to fulfill this important role the produce industry can play in the healthy outcomes of our consumers.”
PMA will be working with members to collect and provide comments during the public comment period and will make those comments available to the industry at large in a variety of public channels.