The AAFP offered both praise and advice to HHS and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in response to a request for comments(www.gpo.gov) on the agencies' joint Scientific Report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee.(health.gov)
In an April 28 letter(2 page PDF) to HHS Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health Don Wright, M.D., M.P.H.; Angela Tagtow, M.S., R.D., L.D., executive director of the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion at USDA; and Steven Shafer, Ph.D., associate administrator of USDA's Agricultural Research Service, AAFP Board Chair Reid Blackwelder, M.D., of Kingsport, Tenn., applauded the report's thoroughness, particularly its focus on population health, health equity, health interventions and behavior change.
"We support the inclusion of psychosocial factors discussed concerning food deserts," Blackwelder said in the letter. "We acknowledge and appreciate the considerations given to food insecurity and its overall effect on health.
"The fact that low-income communities frequently do not have access to healthy and affordable food choices has serious detrimental effects on our population's health, and the AAFP encourages further action to reduce these food deserts."
Blackwelder also pressed the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee that issued the report to step up its examination of early exercise interventions to combat childhood obesity going forward because such efforts "provide sustained benefits into adulthood."
He took issue, however, with one of the report's proposed recommendations. "We ... urge the committee to recognize that limited clinical evidence exists to support the committee's recommendation to reduce sodium intake to below 2300 mg/d(ay) in order to decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease or all-cause mortality," Blackwelder said.
Finally, the letter acknowledged the committee's efforts to be "consumer-oriented," but pointed to a process shortfall: the lack of adequate layperson representation on the committee.
"Since it is recommended that patients participate in clinical practice guidelines to ensure that patient preference is being considered, the AAFP urges inclusion of patients, since their perspective could be valuable in the development of dietary guidelines," said Blackwelder.
The opportunity to comment on the report ends May 8. To date, the report has generated more than 11,750 comments. That's in addition to nearly a thousand the committee received before the report was ever released. To view those comments -- or to post your own -- visit the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2015, Web page(www.health.gov) on health.gov.
After the comment period ends, HHS and USDA will use that input in formulating the final guidelines, to be released later this year.
Related AAFP News Coverage
Proposed Dietary Guidance Draws Scrutiny
Cholesterol Recommendations, Focus on Sustainability No Surprise, Says AAFP
Clinical Practice Guideline on Cholesterol: Treatment of Blood Cholesterol to Reduce Atherosclerotic Cardiovascular Risk in Adults (developed by the American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association and endorsed with qualifications by the AAFP)