Dietary Guidelines (DG) Advisory Committee released their Executive summary this past Tuesday, June 15th, 2010. The full report can be found here and is currently open for public comments. These guidelines are used for government nutrition initiatives, programs and education, as well as by dietitians and health professionals to help educate people about eating healthier.The Committee has used a state-of-the-art, web-based electronic system and methodology, known as the Nutrition Evidence Library, to answer the majority of the scientific questions it posed, about specific nutrients and foods. It is important that our dietary recommendations are backed by solid science.
The 2010 DG are different from previous reports in that this one addresses an American public of whom the majority are overweight or obese and yet under-nourished in several key nutrients. On average, Americans of all ages consume too few vegetables, fruits, high-fiber whole grains, low-fat milk and milk products, and seafood and they eat too much added sugars, solid fats, refined grains, and sodium. Added Sugar and Fat contribute approximately 35 percent of calories to the American diet. The current US Food environment is loaded with excess sodium, sugar, fat and refined grains, making it harder for the average consumer to eat healthy.
The Recommendations can be boiled down to this:
- Shift food intake patterns to a more plant-based diet that emphasizes vegetables, cooked dry beans and peas, fruits, whole grains, nuts, and seeds.
- Significantly reduce intake of foods containing added sugars and solid fats because these dietary components contribute excess calories and few, if any, nutrients. In addition, reduce sodium intake and intake of refined grains.Daily sodium intake be 1,500 mg, (down from 2,300mg in the 2005 recommendations).
- Increase physical activity: adults should get at least 2½ hours of moderate-intensity physical activity each week, such as brisk walking, or 1¼ hours of a vigorous-intensity activity, such as jogging or swimming laps, or a combination of the two types. Kids and teens should do an hour or more of moderate-intensity to vigorous physical activity each day.
It's great to see vegetarian/vegan nutrition being supported so strongly by the nutrition world. A Mediterranean diet is also praised as being Optimal-see Steph's great post on this here.
While I strongly support these recommendations, there are several things that must be changed about our Food environment so that eating healthy is easy, accessible and affordable. Hopefully our government will launch initiatives that seek to improve
- Nutrition literacy and cooking skills
- Financial incentives to purchase, prepare, and consume vegetables and fruit, whole grains, seafood, fat-free and low-fat milk and milk products, lean meats, and other healthy foods.
- Availability of affordable fresh produce through greater access to grocery stores, produce trucks, and farmers’ markets. Let's Eliminate Food Deserts!
- Environmentally sustainable production of vegetables, fruits, and fiber-rich whole grains.
- Comprehensive health, nutrition, and physical education programs and curricula in US schools and preschools
- Encourage restaurants and the food industry to offer health-promoting foods that are low in sodium; limited in added sugars, refined grains, and solid fats; and served in smaller portions.
This summary is now open for public comments-so what do you have to say? Tell me here or submit your comment to the committee here! You can also read what others are saying here. Will changing the recommendations help make American healthier or do we first need to change the entire food environment?