Dietary Guidelines Tackle Obesity
In the five years since the government last released dietary guidelines, the obesity epidemic has swelled. That's why the new recommendations, released today by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, focus on the challenges of obesity.
While some parts of Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 are familiar-Americans should eat more fruits and veggies-the view on other foods is stricter. New recommendations include:
- Reduce overall calorie intake and increase physical activity
- Reduce daily sodium (salt) intake to less than 2,300 mg. African Americans, people age 51 and over, and anyone with high blood pressure, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease should get no more than 1,500 mg of sodium per day.
- Less than 10 percent of calories should come from saturated fats (such as those in butter). Instead, they should be replaced by monounsaturated fats (such as from olive and canola oils) and polyunsaturated fats (such as from sunflower and soybean oils).
- Eat as little trans fats, found in margarine, some desserts, and snacks, as possible.
- Increase seafood intake by replacing some meat in the diet with fish.
- At least half of all grains eaten should be whole grains. To meet the guidelines, replace refined grains with whole grains.
- Consume less than 300 mg per day of dietary cholesterol.
- Limit foods high in added sugars, such as soda, desserts, fruit drinks, and candy.
Why the firmer stance? According to the report, the average American diet is deficient in vital nutrients and far too many unhealthy foods. According to the report, the average American consumes about 3,400 mg of sodium per day, nearly double the amount recommended. And added sugars-those found in sweets, soda, and most packaged foods-make up 16 percent of the calories in the typical diet.
The 2010 recommendations (the report was slated for a December 2010 release but was held up) include simple steps all Americans can take to improve their diet, such as keeping a food journal, planning meals ahead to ensure their healthfulness, reducing portion sizes, and opting for home-cooked meals instead of eating out. The report also includes recommendations to increase exercise for all Americans.
For more information or to read the full report, go here.