Examining Conflicts of Interest for Professional Service within the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee

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Judgments and integrity uphold professionalism. Failure to manage professional conflicts of interest (COIs) may undermine trust in an individual, practitioner, or institution. This perspective article examines standards for nutrition researchers and practitioners to manage COIs for the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) process. Thereafter, this article analyzes a study published by Mialon et al. that raised concerns about the expert advisory committee selection process and management of COIs for 20 professionals appointed by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the USDA, who served on a federal government advisory committee to review evidence for the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) 2020 scientific report. The analysis found that Mialon et al. enumerated COIs for each DGAC member with industry, removed from the original context, which prevented readers from assessing the COI risk. Moreover, the USDA ethics office concluded that “the 20 committee members were in full compliance with the federal ethics rules applicable to special government employees.” I conclude that Mialon et al. could use institutional mechanisms to encourage the USDA and HHS to strengthen future COI policies and procedures, aligned with the 2022 National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine report recommendations to improve the DGA 2025 to 2030 process.



Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, advisory committee, bias, conflicts of interest, dietary guidelines, Prevention, Patient Safety, Nutrition, 4 Quality Education