The letter said the “shift toward a more plant-based diet” in the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee’s recommendations is a potentially “powerful tool for health promotion” that would help reduce healthcare costs, Forman-Cook writes.
“Three of the four leading causes of preventable death, heart disease, cancer, and stroke — are diet-related,” the letter reads. “Heavy meat consumption, especially red and processed meat, is associated with increased risks of heart disease, diabetes and some cancers, while plant-based diets are associated with decreased risks of all three.”
They also noted that 75 percent of U.S. health-care costs and diminished labor supply and worker productivity is caused by chronic and preventable diseases, costing the country “$1 trillion in lost economic output and billions more in rising healthcare cost,” Forman-Cook writes.
For the first time, the guidelines include environmental standards and sustainability language. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack “has not said he is opposed to including sustainability concerns in the final guidelines,” Forman-Cook writes. He told her that “he would be personally involved” in writing the new guidelines, keeping them “narrowly focused on nutrition.”
The guidelines, which are revised every five years to reflect advancements in scientific knowledge, are used to guide federal nutrition programs, including school meal standards, and to inform consumers. They are expected to be published later this year.