Gathering for their final public meeting in December, Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) members accepted the major conclusions and recommendations for their final report, including choosing healthy eating patterns containing dairy, particularly low-fat or fat-free dairy.

While many of the details are not yet known, the DGAC did approve the broad points to be included in the report, which is slated for release in early 2015. These points included recommendations for healthy eating patterns that include moderate to high levels of dairy, especially low-fat or fat-free dairy products.

The committee also will recommend that Americans limit their intake of saturated fat, added sugar and sodium, which could affect recommendations for full-fat dairy products, cheese and sweetened dairy products. In addition to recommendations based on nutritional needs, the DGAC report also will urge Americans to eat more plant-based foods and fewer animal-based foods for both health and environmental needs.

The DGAC will recommend a number of nutrition policy steps to encourage Americans to choose diets in line with the 2015 Dietary Guidelines, such as including an added sugar declaration on the Nutrition Facts panel, changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as Food Stamps) and sodium initiatives. The DGAC report does not directly set policies, but it may be used by legislators or regulators as guidance for laws or regulations.

Next steps will include the writing of the actual DGAC report, which is anticipated to be submitted to the Secretaries of Agriculture and Health and Human Services (HHS) in early January 2015. The report will likely be available for public review and comment in late January or early February, with a public meeting for oral testimony and a 45-day comment period for written comments. Following the comment period, USDA and HHS will release the official Dietary Guidelines for Americans later in 2015.