Sugar Association Raises Concerns about Dietary Guidelines

Randall Weiseman General, Industry News Release, Specialty Crops, Sugar

The Sugar Association questioned the 2015 Dietary Guidelines process during testimony delivered at a public meeting Tuesday in Bethesda, Maryland.

Download Audio

The Sugar Association questioned the 2015 Dietary Guidelines process in public testimony delivered today, noting that the Committee has taken “added sugars” recommendations into unchartered territory, raising serious concerns about timing, consistency and potential biases.

“Sugars guidance has appeared in every version of the Guidelines and ‘added sugars’ intake is a major topic of scientific debate. So, we ask how is it possible that this important topic wasn’t addressed early in this process?” Courtney Gaine, PhD, RD, vice president of scientific affairs with The Sugar Association, questioned the Committee.

Dr. Gaine noted that The Added Sugars Working Group wasn’t formed until September 2014. Yet, this short duration of time seems to be the explanation as to why the Working Group conducted only one Nutrition Evidence Library (NEL) review to inform its four conclusions on “added sugars,” despite the known importance of the NEL process to reducing bias and increasing transparency and ensuring that all literature is considered.

“After decades of debate, two months’ time is certainly not long enough to adequately evaluate this important body of research,” Dr. Gaine said.

Dr. Gaine emphasized that the Committee’s use of hand-picked pre-existing systematic reviews to develop its other three conclusions raises a number of concerns, as the Committee is not privy to all of the limitations and design elements of the studies included in these reviews and, even when available, the Committee in its report ignored many of the limitations and qualifying statements that are found in these reviews.

Dr. Gaine said that while systematic reviews are helpful research tools, they should not be used as the sole basis for strong dietary recommendations. There are several published papers raising this issue, given biases and errors inherent to conducting these analyses and that findings from meta-analyses on the same topic often contradict each other.

“We contend that consistent use of NEL reviews, such as performed in 2010, would have ensured that all studies were given consistent, transparent and unbiased consideration. But, instead, the 2015 process raises concerns that the Committee selected science to support its pre-determined conclusions,” Dr. Gaine told the Committee.

“The 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee recommendations for ‘added sugars’ are not based on the preponderance of new scientific information; therefore, we request the Secretaries maintain the 2010 Dietary Guidelines on ‘added sugars,'” Dr. Gaine concluded.

To view Dr. Gaine’s testimony in its entirety, click here.