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DGAC Recommends Meat for Children Under Two Years

For the first time, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) Advisory Committee provided recommendations for children under the age of two years. In these recommendations, the advisory committee suggested children have a diet of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products, as well as meat, poultry, seafood and eggs.

 “If we can establish those healthier patterns right away, it will get them used to eating these types of foods,” said Sharon Donovan, professor of nutrition and health at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a member of the committee. The DGAC’s recommendations for meat have been met with criticism, though. Susan Levin, a registered dietitian, and director of nutrition education for the Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine told The Wall Street Journal, “There isn’t scientific evidence to suggest somehow infants would be better off consuming meat, seafood, eggs, and dairy,” continuing to state that infants can get nutrients typically found in meat, such as iron, from foods like fortified cereals, spinach, and lentils.

The DGAC did offer a vegetarian-style eating pattern for children under the age of two, which include eggs, as they are a good source of choline. The committee did consider a vegan diet, but Kathryn Dewey, professor emerita in the department of nutrition at the University of California, Davis, and Chair of the birth to 24 months subcommittee, stated, “a totally vegan diet at this age is really not going to meet nutrient needs unless you use a lot of fortified products.”

The DGAC also recommended that infants be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life. From six to nine months of age, the committee recommended each week should include between 4 2⁄3 ounces and 16 ounces of red meat, one-half ounce to 1 1⁄4 ounces of poultry, as well as “modest amounts” of seafood, eggs, nuts, and seeds. For toddlers ages one-two years receiving 1,000 calories a day, the committee recommended each week should include 7.7 ounces of red meat and poultry, 3 ounces of seafood, as well as eggs, nuts, seeds, and soy.

The Dietary Guidelines are a joint effort by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Human and Health Services (HHS). Teresa Davis, professor of pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and a member of ASAS, was among the twenty experts in the field of nutrition who were chosen to be on the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC). The DGAC released their recommendations in July and the departments are expected to release the 2020-2025 version of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans at the end of the year. The Dietary Guidelines have a large impact on federal programs, such as the National School Lunch Program, and state and local health promotion efforts.