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In early 2021, the American Society for Nutrition (ASN) launched a free, 3-part webinar series to provide support navigating the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which were released on December 29, 2020, by the US Departments of Agriculture (USDA) and Health and Human Services (HHS). Federal employees with USDA and HHS and members of the 2020 and previous Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committees (DGACs) provided timely insights and recommendations in these webinars to help individuals understand and use the new Guidelines.


The first webinar, "A Behind the Scenes Look at the Development of the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans," held in January 2021, reviewed the nomination and selection process for the 2020 DGAC, the 3 rigorous, protocol-driven approaches the Committee used to review the current evidence base, and how the DGAC's Scientific Report was used by Federal staff to develop the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, along with how USDA and HHS implement the new policy document.


A crucial part of the DGAC's Scientific Report is the section on Future Directions, which covers needed support for federal data, Dietary Reference Intakes and related activities, support for activities related to the Dietary Guidelines, future directions for the Dietary Guidelines process, as well as research recommendations and research and data needs by chapter/topic. The second webinar, "Utilizing Evidence Gaps Identified by the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee Report to Inform Research Priorities," held in February 2021, described the DGAC's key research recommendations that could advance the field of nutrition while supporting future Dietary Guidelines, how the evidence is graded and conclusion statements are developed to summarize the available data, along with how consensus is reached among Committee members, and how the DGAC's recommendations and research needs can inform organization's or laboratory's research priorities.


The third webinar, "Designing, Implementing and Presenting Research to be Reviewed by the 2025 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee," held in March 2021, highlighted the support of USDA's Nutrition Evidence Systematic Review methodology, including inclusion and exclusion criteria and the risk of bias assessment, how researchers should design and implement research studies and report study findings such that they are included in the Nutrition Evidence Systematic Review systematic reviews for consideration for the 2025 Dietary Guidelines, and the importance of research methodology with regard to informing dietary guidance, particularly as this relates to clinical trials.


Continuing Professional Education Units are provided for each of these webinars and they are available for on-demand viewing at



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On Demand-Medical Foods: Their Role in Therapeutic Nutrition Webinar

March 2021


Speakers: Timothy Morck, PhD; Barbara Schneeman, PhD; Patrick Stover, PhD; Jessica O'Connell, JD, MPH


This webinar discussed the Medical Foods Workshop: Science, Regulation, and Practical Aspects, held by the Healthcare Nutrition Council and the ASN. Participants in this workshop addressed some difficulties, such as the statutory term distinctive nutritional requirements, the regulatory term modification of the diet alone, the role of clinical guidelines, the requirement that medical foods be used under medical supervision, and differentiation of foods for special dietary use from medical foods, as well as product innovation and future research. Proceedings of that workshop can be found online:


This webinar offered Continuing Professional Education credits for Registered Dietitians and were made is available for on demand viewing. For more information on past webinars and future webinars, visit


Great Debates in Nutrition: Does the Concept of Food Addiction Help Us Better Manage Overeating and Obesity?

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition's Great Debates in Nutrition series provides a venue for rigorous debates about nutrition, emphasizing topics that affect patient care and public health.


The most recent debate explores whether the concept of food addiction could help us both better understand and better treat obesity and overeating. Dr Ashley N. Gearhardt, Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Michigan, took the position that, yes, the concept of food addiction does help us better understand and treat overeating and obesity. On the other hand, Dr Johannes Hebebrand, Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Duisburg-Essen, took the opposing position, arguing that the concept of food addiction has not led to novel and successful treatments for overeating nor obesity.


In addition to writing their individual arguments, Drs Gearhardt and Hebebrand collaborated on a consensus article, highlighting areas of agreement and disagreement. Both researchers agreed that "addictive-like eating exists, mechanisms implicated in substance-related and addictive disorders contribute to overeating and obesity, and food industry practices are also a key contributor to this phenomenon." In contrast, the authors remained in disagreement over the strength of evidence underlying the assertion that highly processed foods are addictive, the appropriate framework for conceptualizing addictive-like eating, and the implications of identifying unhealthy, highly processed foods as addictive. Looking to the future, both authors believe that further research is needed, most notably to determine what measures should be used to evaluate whether highly processed foods are addictive.


Check out the full articles for the complete debate:


* Gearhardt AN, Hebebrand J. The concept of 'food addiction' helps inform the understanding of overeating and obesity: YES [published online ahead of print January 15, 2021]. Am J Clin Nutr.


* Hebebrand J, Gearhardt AN. The concept of 'food addiction' helps inform the understanding of overeating and obesity: NO [published online ahead of print January 15, 2021]. Am J Clin Nutr.


* Gearhardt AN, Hebebrand J. The concept of 'food addiction' helps inform the understanding of overeating and obesity: debate consensus [published online ahead of print January 15, 2021]. Am J Clin Nutr.