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Explaining the New U.S. Dietary Guidelines — an article on the Smart Living Network
March 8, 2011 at 1:00 PMComments: 0 Faves: 0

Explaining the New U.S. Dietary Guidelines


Dietary guidelines for Americans change every five years. This change is based on current health concerns and input from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Currently, due to the rising incidence of obesity among both our adult and child populations, the government’s most recent update will include some fundamental changes. For instance, more focus has been placed on salt reduction and making thoughtful choices when it comes to choosing healthy food.

What are Dietary Guidelines?

Americans with questions can visit the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans Question and Answer page.

Healthy Food Choices

According to Kathleen Sebelius, HHS secretary, “The 2010 Dietary Guidelines are being released at a time when the majority of adults and one in three children are overweight or obese and this is a crisis we can no longer ignore.” The new guidelines will encourage more thoughtful choices when it comes to what foods Americans consume. It will also focus on balancing calories and physical activity. While the dietary guidelines for Americans have always suggested a diet high in fruits and vegetables, the new guidelines put a specific emphasis on individual segments of the population, such as those over 51 and women who are pregnant.

2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans

The basic outline of the 2010 Dietary guidelines for Americans, while specific, is merely a health guide suggested to U.S. families to help assist them in making healthy food choices every day. In addition to the dietary guidelines, policymakers have also provided a compilation of the latest science-based nutrition-related programs and recommendations to physicians, educators and nutritionists across the continent. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 7th edition, targets every American, while spotlighting a few select groups. Approximately 23 Key Recommendations are listed for the general public—individuals who are age two and older—and another six Key Recommendations are listed for specific groups. By incorporating these guidelines into our own personal lives, we can all look forward to better health and less health care costs.

Calories and Physical Activity

The ultimate health tool is one that helps us learn to balance physical activities with calories, and also to choose calories from foods that are healthier. USDA secretary, Tom Vilsack says, “These new and improved dietary recommendations give individuals the information to make thoughtful choices of healthier foods in the right portions and to complement those choices with physical activity. The bottom line is that most Americans need to trim our waistlines to reduce the risk of developing diet-related chronic disease. Improving our eating habits is not only good for every individual and family, but also for our country.” While the Dietary Guidelines for Americans have always recommended more fruits and vegetables, this year’s edition appears more focused. Because inadequate diet, poor food choices and inactivity are the biggest culprits when it comes to poor health, more emphasis is being placed on the consumption of less calories overall, as well as good healthy food choices as often as possible. In addition, physical exercise and salt reduction are now getting a lot of attention. Daily Dietary Guideline Tips and Recommendations:

  • Reduce salt intake to no more than 2,300 mg or no more than 1,500 for individuals aged 51 or older, individuals of African-American descent, or those who have heart conditions, high blood pressure, diabetes or chronic kidney disease
  • Consume less than 300 mg of cholesterol
  • Limit consumption of refined grains
  • Alcohol consumption for legal aged adults—no more than one drink for women and two for men
  • Prevent becoming overweight and/or obese by watching calorie intake as well as focusing on physical activity
  • Watch portions
  • Fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables
  • Consume fat-free or low-fat milk
  • Watch sodium intake: processed foods are high in sodium, choose wisely
  • Choose water more often and drink eight glasses per day
  • Maintain calorie balance
  • Chose activities that promote physical movement over being sedentary

Overall, if Americans placed particular focus on nutrient dense foods and beverages and maintained a calorie versus physical activity balance, the country would be on its way to a more healthful state. Sources:

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