The first meeting of the Dietary Guidelines Expert Committee (Expert Committee) was held in October 2021 by videoconference.

The Expert Committee, announced on 15 September 2021 to advise on the review of the 2013 Australian Dietary Guidelines (2013 Guidelines), encompasses expertise in nutrition epidemiology, evidence translation, research methodology, nutrition across the lifecycle, nutrition communication, food and health relationships, consumer behaviour and preferences and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.

Review process and transparency measures

Members noted the Expert Committee’s Terms of reference and that the review is being undertaken to ensure that Australia's dietary advice is based on the most recent scientific evidence. The review process will follow the National Health and Medical Research Council’s (NHMRC) published guideline development framework. The Expert Committee noted the additional transparency measures employed for the review, including establishment of the Dietary Guidelines Governance Committee (Governance Committee).

Members noted NHMRC is committed to minimising actual or perceived conflicts of interest in the review of the 2013 Guidelines. NHMRC has additional measures to increase transparency and prevent bias. Members noted that the Governance Committee has been established to provide best practice advice on managing potential bias and actual or perceived conflicts of interest throughout the review. The Expert Committee reviewed interests declared by each member and agreed that members' disclosures of interests be made available.

Stakeholder engagement

Reflecting the significance of stakeholder feedback, members committed to ensuring engagement with relevant stakeholders (including federal and state governments, consumers, public health experts and industry) during the review process. The Expert Committee accepted that, to support increased transparency, a summary of relevant correspondence and communications between external stakeholders would be made available on the NHMRC website1.

Prioritisation of review topics

To progress the review, the Expert Committee focussed discussions on the scope of the review, outlining different principles that should be considered in the prioritisation of topics.

The Expert Committee decided that a tailored approach, based on established priority setting frameworks, should be developed to inform decision-making. Members noted the high-level scoping activities undertaken by NHMRC to support prioritisation, including:

  • scoping of available systematic reviews
  • identification of food and nutrition advice provided by Australian organisations
  • thematic analysis of recent published media relating to food and nutrition
  • stakeholder scoping survey
  • targeted survey regarding use of the guidelines, focused on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations
  • international dietary guidelines.

Members agreed to develop the prioritisation approach and finalise the list of priority topics, taking into consideration the outcomes of the scoping activities, out of session.

Next meeting

The next meeting of the Expert Committee will be held in early 2022 by videoconference.

1 Now located on communicating with our stakeholders