Tea makes the DGAC cut!

The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is beginning its process of review and data collection this year in anticipation of the 2025 publication of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA), and tea has made the selective ‘list’ of beverages to be reviewed. 

Both the Tea Association of the USA, Inc., and the Tea Council of the USA have been working for the last three DGAC cycles leveraging the healthfulness of tea, to influence tea being incorporated into the DGA. The DGAC is using data analysis, food pattern modeling, and systematic reviews to examine a list of prioritised scientific questions. The questions about dietary patterns reference the effect of beverages on growth, body composition, risk of obesity and risk of type 2 diabetes. Tea, as well as dairy and coffee, are included specifically as these questions are being reviewed. 

This is a significant achievement for tea Peter F. Goggi, president of the Tea Association of the USA said, explaining that “tea has been discussed by the DGAC in the past but has never made it to the final recommendations.” 

The DGAC uses three scientific approaches to examine the evidence: data analysis, food pattern modeling, and systematic reviews. In an email alert to its members, the Tea Association and Tea Council of the USA offered updates on DGAC activities to date in 2023, which included key points discussed at the second DGAC Meeting (the next meeting has not yet been scheduled). 

According to the update, sustainability is an area of interest for the DGA 2025 to better understand how sustainability intersects with food systems, diet, nutrition, and health, highlighting that “information we can provide about the sustainability of tea should be included in our comments.” The DGAC is viewing the 2025 guidelines through a ‘health equity lens’ and they are considering diverse racial, ethnic, socioeconomic, and cultural backgrounds.  

Furthermore, in his letter to members, Goggi said the DGAC committee is looking to recognise that American consumer’s frustration with choosing healthy foods runs deep and is rooted in individual daily battles. The DGAC looks to consider factors such as economic and social aspects of obstacles to food access, health, and healthcare, and works on ways to remove barriers. 

The relationship between beverage consumption and type 2 diabetes is being examined by the committee. The DGAC notes that as beverages are consumed throughout the day, the effect of beverages on blood sugar levels is important to consider. 

The DGAC is also exploring the relationship between coffee and/or tea consumption and growth, body composition and risk of obesity. 

The 2025 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee is examining a list of prioritised scientific questions informed by the proposed list of scientific questions identified by Health and Human Services (HHS) and USDA. The full list of questions, including the beverage-focused ones, may be viewed here. 

Louise Pollock, president, Pollock Communications, which represents the Tea Council of the USA, and has been working with both organisations to promote research findings that tout the many healthy attributes of tea as well as to leverage the healthfulness of tea over the last three DGAC cycles in order to influence tea being incorporated into the DGA, said the [tea] organisations plan to address the research on tea and obesity and diabetes in their comments in late 2023 or early 2024. 

“The Tea Council of the USA will do this by sending written comments to the Dietary Guidelines Committee citing [published] research,” said Pollock. “Additionally, we will work with a highly respected researcher to provide in-person comments, if selected, about the health benefits of tea directly to the Committee.”

The Tea Association and Tea Council will continue to monitor the activities of the DGAC and will offer input when comments are requested, and T&CTJ will continue to provide updates as they become available. 

While on the topic of tea and sustainability, just a quick reminder that T&CTJ’s tea sustainability survey deadline has been extended to 30 June. Please voice your opinion on this critically important topic. Access the survey here. 

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