Dietary Guidelines for Americans

Promoting the Dietary Guidelines for Americans

ASTHO, with support from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, is working to identify and promote the current uses of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) in order to educate and mobilize state health leadership to utilize and integrate the DGA throughout the state health agency. The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans  were jointly released by HHS and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in January 2016. This edition of the DGA expands upon and updates previous versions to align with current scientific evidence and medical knowledge. State and territorial health agencies play a variety of important roles in communicating these changes and supporting the implementation of the DGA across all sectors and settings. ASTHO has developed case studies and other resources to support implementation efforts.

ASTHO Dietary Guidelines for Americans Webinar

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Since 1980, the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services and of Agriculture have jointly released the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The Dietary Guidelines has guided policymakers, nutrition and health professionals, and other stakeholders to encourage U.S. citizens ages 2 and older to consume healthful diets that align with the body of current scientific evidence. The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines, released in January 2016, expands upon and updates previous versions to align with current scientific evidence and medical knowledge. State health agencies play a number of important roles in communicating these changes and supporting implementation of the Dietary Guidelines across all sectors and settings in their state. This webinar provided an overview of the Key Recommendations of the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines and highlighted how Massachusetts has utilized the Guidelines to develop nutrition standards for state agency food procurement and the work that Missouri has been doing to promote healthy eating through the Stock Healthy, Shop Healthy initiative.

ASTHO Dietary Guidelines for Americans Resources

Supporting the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans: The Role of State and Territorial Health Agencies Issue Brief
This issue brief provides an overview of the DGA and discusses opportunities and strategies state and territorial health agencies can use to support its adoption and implementation across many settings to support healthy food and physical activity choices among all residents of their state.

Dietary Guidelines for Americans Recommendations Slide Deck (with notes)
This slide deck outlines the 2015-2020 DGA recommendations as well as provides specific recommendations for state and territorial health agencies for implementing the guidelines.

Arkansas Implements Healthy Employee Lifestyle Program
The Arkansas Department of Health launched a comprehensive worksite wellness program intervention supported by policy that rewards regular exercise, good nutrition, and other healthy lifestyle choices.  

Rhode Island Uses Community Health Network to Increase Access to Chronic Disease Management
Rhode Island's Community Health Network partners multiple chronic disease management programs to provide a single access point for patient referrals. Patient navigators have facilitated more than 879 referrals to evidence-based programs around the state.

Utah Department of Health Promotes Healthy Eating Options at Catered Events
The Utah Department of Health incorporates HHS and USDA's Dietary Guidelines for Americans in its workplace through a healthy food policy for catered events.

ASTHO Healthy Eating Resources

The National Prevention Strategy Implementation Toolkit
The National Prevention Strategy (NPS) provides evidence-based recommendations for 4 Strategic Directions and 7 Priority Areas. ASTHO has developed an online toolkit with resources intended to help state and territorial governments implement the recommendations in the NPS, including one focused on Healthy Eating.

Healthy Aging, Healthy Eating
This website compiles a wide variety of materials to help state and territorial governments and their partners implement NPS to improve outcomes for older adults by promoting healthy eating.  

Publishing Guidelines for Incorporating Health Criteria into School Curriculum
ASTHO, National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE), the Association of American Publishers (AAP), and the Association of Educational Publishers (AEP) collaborated to create publishing guidelines that facilitate the increase of health criteria in school curriculum by incorporating the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. The guidelines suggest methods to incorporate information and examples in the areas of nutrition, physical education/activity, and healthy behaviors.

Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act Issue Brief
ASTHO and the Association of State and Territorial Public Health Nutrition Directors developed this issue brief to highlight the role of state health agencies in the implementation of the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act. This document identifies key components of the Act and emphasizes partnerships with departments of education and agriculture around programs such as WIC, the National School Lunch and Breakfast Program, and the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP).


Since the first edition of the DGA was released in 1980, the guidelines have encouraged Americans to focus on eating a healthful diet which focuses on foods and beverages that help achieve and maintain a healthy weight, promote health, and prevent disease. The DGA offer advice for healthy Americans ages 2 years and older and provide the basis for federal food and nutrition policy and education initiatives. Through a mandate, the DGA is jointly published every five years by HHS and USDA.

The 2015-2020 DGA includes several important updates from previous versions. While previous editions focused primarily on specific, individual dietary components such as foods, food groups, and nutrients, the 2015-2020 DGA reflects the latest body of nutrition science by taking a wider view. It emphasizes overall eating patterns, the combinations of all the foods and drinks that people consume every day. This approach acknowledges that there are many ways to achieve a healthy eating pattern which can be tailored based on individual preferences and other factors.

Using the eating patterns approach, the 2015-2020 DGA includes five overarching Guidelines that encourage healthy eating patterns, recognize that individuals will need to make shifts in their food and beverage choices to achieve a healthy pattern, and emphasize the role of all sectors in supporting healthy choices. "Key Recommendations" support these five Guidelines and provide more specific guidance on how to implement them. The 2015-2020 DGA also places greater emphasis than do past editions on the role of factors at the individual, setting, sector, and cultural levels on food and physical activity behaviors. It uses the Social-Ecological Model as a framework to discuss opportunities for a broad range of stakeholders, including state health agencies, to engage in a range of strategies to support healthy food and physical activity behaviors. 

State health agencies have the ability to be key players in the promotion of healthy eating in their states. They have the partnerships and relationships necessary to spread the DGA recommendations to an extended audience of policy makers, registered dietitians, nutritionists, healthcare providers, and the public in order to education them on the types and amounts of foods and beverages that should be included in their diets to help achieve and maintain a healthy lifestyle and prevent disease across various populations and sectors.

Learn more about the development and recommendations of the DGA.