Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Updated Dietary Guidelines for Americans

Every five years updated Guidelines are released to help guide Americans to eat healthier. The latest Guidelines released Thursday focus on:

· Balancing calories with physical activity to maintain a healthy weight
· Consuming more nutrient dense foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fat-free and low-fat dairy products and seafood
· Consuming fewer foods with sodium, saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, added sugars, and refined grains

More specific guidelines include:

· Consuming less than 10% of calories from added sugar daily
· Consuming less than 10% of calories from saturated fats daily
· Consuming less than 2,300 mg of sodium daily
· If consumed, drinking alcohol in moderation (up to one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men)

Many experts criticize the government for allowing food manufacturers and lobbyists to skew published Guidelines. There is a great deal of money at stake based on what the guidelines say, and many food manufacturers are fighting hard to keep their businesses profitable.

According to the government, the Guidelines are grounded in the most current scientific evidence meant to help people make healthy food and beverage choices. Experts, including those from the American Cancer Society, argue the new Guidelines did not highlight the latest medical research on red meat and processed meat consumption which is repeatedly linked to higher rates of heart disease, cancer, and premature death. It is well known the meat industry has a huge influence on the USDA and many experts criticize this relationship skewing the Guidelines.

Overall we applaud the Guidelines for encouraging a reduction in added sugar, saturated fat, and sodium. In 2005 the Guidelines targeted dangerous trans fats resulting in the FDA requiring trans fats be listed on nutrition labels and removal of trans fats from all foods by 2018.

Optimism for similar changes in sugar and sodium usage by food manufacturers is anticipated. We are also pleased to see focus on the importance of everything one eats and drinks over a lifetime, rather than focusing on one specific nutrient or a specific diet to follow. It is clear the updated Guidelines are beneficial for Americans but there is certainly room for improvement.

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