NEW YORK (Reuters) - New U.S. dietary guidelines on Thursday urged Americans to cut their sugar and saturated fat intake to less than 10 percent of daily calories, but consumer advocates said the curbs did not provide clear guidance on the need to lower consumption of meat.
The government guidelines, which are issued every five years, are a roadmap for U.S. dietary policy, and some groups suggested the recommendations should have better reflected the World Health Organization’s view that processed meat can cause cancer.
Kari Hamerschlag, senior program manager with the advocacy group Friends of the Earth, said in a statement the new guidelines by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture ignored strong scientific evidence presented by its own advisory committee on the need for Americans to eat less meat for health, food security and environmental reasons.
“The administration has clearly put the financial interests of the meat industry over the weight of the science and the health of the American people,” Hamerschlag said.
Other health advocates lauded the guidelines, which aim to reduce obesity and prevent chronic diseases like Type 2 diabetes, hypertension and heart disease.
“If Americans ate according to that advice, it would be a huge win for the public’s health,” said Michael F. Jacobson, president of the Center for Science in the Public Interest.
Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell said the recommendations were based on the latest scientific evidence, input from the public and other factors. For the first time, she said, they did not include a specific limit on dietary cholesterol consumption.
The North American Meat Institute, an industry group that represents companies including Cargill Inc, Tyson Foods Inc (TSN.N) and Kraft Heinz Co (KHC.O), said the recommendations were an “affirmation of meat and poultry nutrition.”
The guidelines were specific on sugar, encouraging Americans to keep consumption below 10 percent of daily caloric intake, while consuming more fruit and vegetables. In the past, the U.S. has offered more vague recommendations on limiting sugar consumption.
The advice would translate to a sharp reduction in the consumption of sugary drinks, snacks and sweets for many Americans. Teenagers age 14-18 on average consume about 17 percent of their calories in added sugar, according to the guidelines.
Those aged 14 and younger were advised to consume less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day.
Reporting by Julie Steenhuysen and Tom Polansek in Chicago and Caroline Humer and Chris Prentice in New York; Editing by Bernadette Baum