To understand the committee’s proposed nutrition standards for competitive foods, it is useful to highlight 2 of the 10 Guiding Principles defined in Chapter 1 because they particularly direct the committee’s recommendations. These key premises, within the context of the Guiding Principles as a whole, are the necessity of using standards based on individual foods rather than the whole diet (Guiding Principle 8), and identification of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) as the primary source informing the committee’s recommendations on specific food components (Guiding Principle 9).
As noted in Guiding Principle 8, nutrient standards for competitive foods and beverages must be food based, rather than based on overall dietary intake (diet based). This is in contrast to the context of other nutrition policies (e.g., the DGA), in which diet-based standards are the approach of choice. When feasible, a diet-based standard is preferred because this approach recognizes that an individual’s health is influenced by the overall pattern of foods consumed, rather than just on individual foods and beverages.
However, unlike the federally reimbursable school nutrition programs, which have some flexibility in meeting intake requirements over time, competitive foods are usually offered and purchased individually without taking into account other daily intake. In this context, each food and beverage must be regarded separately; thus the committee’s recommendations set standards for the individual foods and beverages. Furthermore, the standards assure that each snack, food, and beverage item offered separately from the federally reimbursable school nutrition programs is consistent with the dietary pattern and specific nutrient recommendations of the DGA, and the committee’s rationale for its application of the DGA is explained in the relevant sections of the text. The recommended nutrition standards are based on the assumption that meals are the primary nutrient and calorie source for children for the day. Competitive foods are offered as discretionary calories.
As noted in Guiding Principle 9, the majority of recommendations are derived from the summary volume of the DGA (DHHS/USDA, 2005). The committee identified the DGA as the primary resource for formulating