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By Gary Ruskin
Nine out of 20 members of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) have conflicts of interest with food, pharmaceutical or weight loss companies or industry groups with a stake in the outcome of the guidelines, according to a new report published on Oct. 4 by the nonprofit public health research group U.S. Right to Know. An additional four members had possible conflicts of interest.
The report found that Abbott, Novo Nordisk, National Dairy Council, Eli Lilly and Weight Watchers International had ties to two or more DGAC members.
The DGAC is a panel of food and nutrition experts who make recommendations for updating the U.S. government’s official dietary advice.
U.S. Right to Know compiled publicly available data from the last five years about each of the 20 DGAC members’ ties with the industry.
The report concluded that “with high-risk conflicts of interest still present on the DGAC, the public cannot have confidence that the official dietary advice from the U.S. government is free from industry influence.”
The report also noted “encouraging findings,” highlighting that seven DGAC members had no confirmed or possible conflicts in the past five years.
Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued limited and incomplete disclosures of the 2025 DGAC members’ relationships with industry.
These disclosures were aggregated, voluntary, did not identify each individual member’s conflicts and only covered the last year. The report was an effort to fill in the gaps of the agencies’ flawed disclosure.
The report is titled “Full Disclosure: Assessing Conflicts of Interest of the 2025 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee.”
The report gives six recommendations to improve the operation of the DGAC:
“USDA and HHS should: (1) not appoint members with high-risk conflicts of interest; (2) disclose individual members’ conflicts during the last five years; (3) use a transparent disclosure form — not OGE form 450, due to its confidentiality; (4) publish a list of provisional appointees prior to appointment, open for public comment, as recommended by NASEM; and, (5) include leadership roles or paid roles at conflicted nutrition organizations in disclosures of possible conflicts of interest. Congress should (6) expand the Physician Payments Sunshine Act to cover the nutrition field.”
U.S. Right to Know has co-authored 15 peer-reviewed public health studies revealing how the food and beverage industries and industry-funded groups try to influence public opinion, scientific research, public health conferences and government policies related to diet and nutrition.
Originally published by U.S. Right to Know.
Gary Ruskin is the executive director of U.S. Right to Know.