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USDA’s New Dietary Guidelines

USDA’s New Dietary Guidelines

On January 31, 2011, the USDA and HHS announced “New Dietary Guidelines to help Americans make healthier food choices and confront obesity epidemic.” The new dietary guideline is titled, “Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010.” They were excited to announce the new guidelines in light of First Lady Michelle Obama’s anti-obesity health initiative.

Some of the highlighted recommendations include:

1.) reducing sodium intake to 1500mg/day. It was noted that the average American consumes 3400 mg/day and males consume considerably more sodium than females.

2.) increasing intake of seafood while reducing the intake of red meats.

3.) increasing intake of whole grains and fiber, which is found to help decrease weight gain.

4.) reducing intake of trans and saturated fats in exchange for mono and polyunsaturated fats. Oils should be used to replace the use of solid fats.

5.) reducing the consumption of refined/processed products.

6.) increasing the intake of fruits and vegetables.

7) Adults age 50 and older should supplement their diet with Vitamin B12.

There were a total of 23 key recommendations for the general population and six additional key recommendations for specific population groups, such as women who are pregnant.

It was recognized that healthy eating may be difficult for some individuals in particular those who have little access to fresh produce in their local markets. Poor food quality in school lunch programs is also a major issue in children’s health.  The presence of many fast food restaurants in a particular vicinity also makes it more likely that people will eat fast food and have a generally unhealthier diet.

Also notable was the fact approximately 16% of the total calories in an American diet is made of added sugar. Added sugar is defined as sugar added to food and drinks for additional flavor, such as high fructose corn syrup.

More consumer-friendly advice and tools, including a next generation Food Pyramid, will be released by the USDA and HHS in the coming months. Some of the tips that will be provided to help consumers translate the Dietary Guidelines into their everyday lives include:

• Enjoy your food, but eat less.
• Avoid oversized portions.
• Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.
• Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk.
• Compare sodium in foods like soup, bread, and frozen meals – and choose the foods with
lower numbers.
• Drink water instead of sugary drinks.

To read the entire policy guide: http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/DGAs2010-PolicyDocument.htm

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