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New Dietary Guidelines Will Help Americans Make Better Food Choices, Live Healthier Lives

Armen Hareyan's picture

HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson and Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman today announced the release of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005, the federal government's science-based advice to promote health and reduce risk of chronic diseases through nutrition and physical activity.

The sixth edition of Dietary Guidelines for Americans places stronger emphasis on reducing calorie consumption and increasing physical activity. This joint project of the Departments of Health and Human Services and Agriculture is the latest of the five-year reviews required by federal law. It is the basis of federal food programs and nutrition education programs and supports the nutrition and physical fitness pillars of President Bush's HealthierUS Initiative.

"These new Dietary Guidelines represent our best science-based advice to help Americans live healthier and longer lives," Secretary Thompson said. "The report gives action steps to reach achievable goals in weight control, stronger muscles and bones, and balanced nutrition to help prevent chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and some cancers. Promoting good dietary habits is key to reducing the growing problems of obesity and physical inactivity, and to gaining the health benefits that come from a nutritionally balanced diet."

"The new Dietary Guidelines highlight the principle that Americans should keep their weight within healthful limits and engage in ample physical activity," said Secretary Veneman. "The process we used to develop these recommendations was more rigorous and more transparent than ever before. Taken together, the recommendations will help consumers make smart choices from every food group, get the most nutrition out of the calories consumed and find a balance between eating and physical activity."

Eating a healthy balance of nutritious foods continues as a central point in the Dietary Guidelines, but balancing nutrients is not enough for health. Total calories also count, especially as more Americans are gaining weight. Because almost two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese, and more than half get too little physical activity, the 2005 Dietary Guidelines place a stronger emphasis on calorie control and physical activity.

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The Dietary Guidelines, based on the latest scientific information including medical knowledge, provides authoritative advice for people two years and older about how proper dietary habits can promote health and reduce risk for major chronic diseases. The 2005 Dietary Guidelines were prepared in three stages. In the first, a 13-member Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee prepared a report based on the best available science. In the second stage, government scientists and officials developed the Dietary Guidelines after reviewing the advisory committee's report and agency and public comments. In the third stage, experts worked to translate the Dietary Guidelines into meaningful messages for the public and educators.

The report identifies 41 key recommendations, of which 23 are for the general public and 18 for special populations. They are grouped into nine general topics:

  • Adequate Nutrients Within Calorie Needs
  • Weight Management
  • Physical Activity
  • Food Groups to Encourage
  • Fats
  • Carbohydrates
  • Sodium and Potassium
  • Alcoholic Beverages
  • Food Safety

The Dietary Guidelines provide health education experts, such as doctors and nutritionists, with a compilation of the latest science-based recommendations. Consumer-friendly materials such as brochures and Web sites will assist the general public in understanding the scientific language of the 2005 Dietary Guidelines and the key points that they can apply in their lives. To highlight those points, a consumer-oriented brochure accompanies the 2005 Dietary Guidelines. USDA's Food Guidance System also will serve as a tool to educate consumers on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The Food Guidance System, currently called the Food Guide Pyramid, is undergoing revision and will be released in the spring of 2005.


The 2005 Dietary Guidelines and consumer brochure are available at www.healthierus.gov/dietaryguidelines