The Dietary Goals for the United States were introduced in 1977 and have been followed by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) every 5 years from 1980 to 2010. The DGA provide science-based advice to promote health and reduce risk for major chronic diseases through diet and physical activity. The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committees are charged to provide updates of the DGA topics using the best available science. The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committees' reports also identified 169 research gaps. To date, these gaps have not been compiled and assessed. We evaluated trends in number, topics, and specificity of research gaps by year by placing them in the following topic categories: general, chronic diseases/conditions, diet/diet pattern, food/ingredient, and nutrient-specific research gaps. Some research topics (eg, sodium and hypertension and appropriate uses of DGA) have been identified consistently across the years, some emerged in later years (eg, increasingly specific research gaps between dietary fatty acids and cardiovascular disease), and others appeared intermittently (eg, relationships between dietary components and cancer). These results are a call to action for all DGA stakeholders to have an immediate dialogue about how the research enterprise can best address critical research needs in a timely way to support public policy.
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