New Dietary Guidelines for Americans No Big News

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The new 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans policy just released by the US Department of Agriculture does not offer much in the way of change. Even though there is an epidemic of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and other diet-related health issues in the United States, the guidelines offer little more than a few changes in wording from the 2005 version.

There is little new in the new dietary guidelines

Despite the claim in the new Dietary Guidelines for Americans that it “is being released at a time of rising concern about the health of the American population,” the new guidelines do not offer significant recommendations to address that concern. For example, like the 2005 guidelines, the 2010 version does not change the recommendations concerning total fat intake (20 to 35% of calories), saturated fat (less than 10%), sodium (less than 2,300 mg), or cholesterol (less than 300 mg).

On the topic of caloric intake and obesity, the new guidelines are equally weak. They recommend that Americans “prevent and/or reduce overweight and obesity through improved eating and physical activity behaviors,” and that they should “control total caloric intake to manage body weight.” These are broad stroke statements, but there are no specific, focused helpful guidelines in the new policy.

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For example, the new guidelines place a bit more emphasis on reducing added sugars from the diet, and they recommend consumers choose monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats and oils rather than animal fats whenever possible, but no specifics are provided. The message to consumers is to “Enjoy your food, but eat less.”

The difference in the sodium limits is also negligible: while individuals with high blood pressure or risk factors for the disease were offered the suggestion to limit their sodium intake to 1,500 mg per day in 2005, now it is a recommendation. This recommendation is still short of the 1,500-mg limit recommended by the American Heart Association for everyone regardless of hypertension status.

The new Dietary Guidelines for Americans is fleshed out with cooking tips and information about safe preparation methods and kitchen hygiene, which are all important. However, it appears the “new” guidelines offer nothing novel or significant when it comes to tackling the major health problems that plague Americans—obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.

SOURCES:
US Department of Agriculture 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans
US Department of Agriculture 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans

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