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Report: Group that sets diet guidelines has ties to food companies

A U.S. health watchdog found that many members of a committee that helps set diet guidelines have conflicts of interest within the food industry.
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Posted at 7:11 PM, Oct 06, 2023

A report by a U.S. health watchdog finds nearly half of the members of a high-profile government dietary committee have ties to U.S. food companies that represent conflicts of interest.

U.S. Right to Know, a nonprofit public health research group, found that 9 out of 20 members of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee have medium- or high-risk ties to food companies that the committee's recommendations may influence. Companies like Abbott, Weight Watchers and the National Dairy Council were found to have ties to two or more members of the committee.

The committee, whose members are appointed by the Departments of Health and Human Services and Agriculture, are responsible for reviewing the latest in nutrition science and reporting to the federal agencies that set dietary guidelines for Americans.

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U.S. Right to Know's report reviewed five years of disclosure data about the committee and found close to half of the committee members had connections to industry groups that have a stake in government diet guidelines. Four more committee members had possible conflicts of interest.

"With high-risk conflicts of interest still present on the DGAC, the public cannot have confidence that the official dietary advice from the U.S. government is free from industry influence," the report said.

The report says corporate food interests are known to support political candidates, undertake "lobbying activities" and fund dietary research to advance their interests.

The report recommends steps to improve transparency, including publishing potential appointees to the DCAG for public comment, and holding members to stricter definitions of conflicts of interest.