Today food and nutrition experts, along with national leaders in food and nutrition policy, public health, academia, industry and government, gathered in Washington, D.C. to discuss how the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans can be implemented to help facilitate greater consumer understanding and adoption.

"Dietary guidance is the main entree on our national menu because good food is good health, but there remains a perplexing gap between well-intentioned policy and real consumer behavior," said Dr. Ken Lee, director of The Ohio State Food Innovation Center. "We are now at the critically correct moment in time, between the release of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee's (DGAC) scientific report and yet-to-be determined federal food policies. We gathered the nation's best experts and engaged stakeholders to brainstorm how these guidelines can be actionable, practical and achievable. If we succeed with real improvement in consumer food habits, we will see real advancement in national health."

According to NPD Group's National Eating Trends® database, which tracks the eating and drinking habits of U.S. consumers, the average consumer meets at least 70 percent of the dietary guidelines for the recommended intake for dairy, fruit, grains, proteins, and vegetables on just seven days of the year, or 2 percent of the time, annually.

Today's Dietary Guidelines for Americans Summit, hosted by Ohio State's Food Innovation Center, Ohio State's John Glenn College of Public Affairs and the National Geographic Society, focused on how the dietary guidelines can help the nation's ethnically diverse and vulnerable populations, such as children, the elderly and low-income communities; how consumer behavior insights can be used to increase adoption of the dietary recommendations; and how public and private sector stakeholders can support consumer adoption of the guidelines in communities across the country.

"The demographics of our country include increasingly diverse cultures and ethnicities, as well as vulnerable populations. It is critical that the dietary guidelines provide nutrition advice that addresses issues that range from cultural relevance to access to the high-nutrient foods the DGAC considers under-(or over-) consumed while respecting issues of cost, preference and home cooking facilities," said Dr. Cheryl Achterberg, dean of The Ohio State College of Education and Human Ecology, and a member of the 2010 DGAC.

Hank Cardello, director of the Obesity Solutions Initiative at the Hudson Institute, underscored the opportunity for public and private stakeholders to help bring scale to the guidelines. "Efforts to improve the health of our nation are well served by both public and private sector initiatives that engage relevant stakeholders. Food manufacturers, for example, are driving scale of healthy eating with the introduction of new and reformulated products that can help consumers build diets that align with the DGAs. Retailers play a pivotal role when it comes to access, with many working to bring healthier foods to places that traditionally had limited access."

Ohio State's Food Innovation Center will compile the key recommendations of the summit to help inform the final dietary guidelines as they are being jointly developed by the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services and Agriculture. As a next step, participants urged members of Congress to convene hearings to fully explore consumer-focused issues raised at the summit. The final guidelines are expected to be published at the end of 2015.

"We thought it was of vital importance to bring this conversation to Washington to ensure that expert voices, including many from outside the Beltway, were heard and considered at a time when the agencies are focusing on the development of the final guidelines," said Dr. Neal Hooker, professor of Food Policy with the new John Glenn College of Public Affairs at Ohio State.

"National Geographic believes that for our planet to be healthy, people must be healthy," noted Dennis Dimick, an executive editor at National Geographic magazine. "That's why we felt it was important to co-host the summit. The relationship that American consumers have with food has reverberations across the globe, so supporting and driving informed food and nutrition policy is crucial."