PNAS Nexus, 2022
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Abstract The U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans is an enormously influential policy that has guided US nutrition programs since 1980. During these last forty years, some researchers have expressed concern that the guidelines are based on an insufficiently rigorous assessment of the scientific evidence, a view that was largely substantiated by a Congressionally mandated 2017 report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, which identified a need for enhanced transparency, greater scientific rigor, and updates to the scientific methodology for the DGA process. This paper traces the history of these ideas and contextualizes the DGA within the law and regulations that govern its process. The paper also discusses how recent iterations of the Dietary Guidelines have not fully adhered to these guiding documents, which has resulted in diminished independence of the expert committee in charge of evaluating the science for the DGA and a continued lack of a fully rigorous scientific process for producing consistent and trustworthy guidelines for the public.