2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans Part I

The following is an archived post

You may have recently heard the buzz about the new 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Every five years, the United States Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services publicize new guidelines, although they tend to come out some time after the actual year for which they are titled – which is why we’re talking about them now at the beginning of 2011.

While many of you are probably aware of the food pyramid or MyPyramid, the logo for the Dietary Guidelines, most of you may not realize that the guidelines have very far-reaching implications – they direct federal nutrition and education programs that reach millions of Americans, including food stamps, the public school lunch and breakfast programs, and more. They also impact how food packaging is labeled.

Released on January 31st, there aren’t very dramatic changes from the 2005 guidelines, but some of the new nutrition recommendations are:

  • Eat more foods from plants. Eat more vegetables, beans, fruit, whole grains, and nuts. Healthful plant-based eating patterns, including the Mediterranean diet, as well as vegetarian and vegan eating plans are highlighted.

  • Eat more fish. Eat more seafood—two servings (8 ounces) per week—in place of red meat or poultry for omega 3 fatty acids (they play a big role in preventing heart disease).

  • Watch protein sources. Replace meat, poultry, and eggs (higher in the saturated and trans fats that Amercians need to cut back on) with protein foods that contain healthy oils, such as fish and nuts. Choose leaner forms of meat.

  • Total fat is fading away as a focus. Total calories in the diet are more important than the percentage of calories from fat in the diet. Replace bad fats (saturated and trans fats) with healthful fats (poly/mono unsaturated fats) from plant sources and fish.What is also important to note is that the recommendations acknowledge for the first time that overweight and obesity are societal problems and offer brief strategies that schools, communities, health-care providers, policy makers, and food producers can use to make it easier for individuals and families to eat right and stay active.

What was the process of making these recommendations?

These recommendations are the result of a two-year process of scientific evidence review and public hearings that drew thousands of comments from individuals and public health experts, as well as from food industry groups. In fact, the guidelines are typically the focus of intense political lobbying, drawing complaints from many public health officials. Many feel that the USDA, responsible for promoting and marketing agricultural products, has too great a conflict of interest to be involved in shaping the guidelines.

Stay tuned for my next post — you guessed it — 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans Part II! I’ll be discussing some recommendations that may have been overlooked.

#dietaryguidelines #USDA #chronicdisease

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