2010 Dietary Guidelines: What’s New?

June 17, 2011 at 8:30 am Leave a comment


The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Health and Human Services (HSS) released the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans back in January. These guidelines serve as evidence based nutritional guidance from the federal government directed at promoting health, reducing the risk of chronic disease and decreasing the prevalence of overweight and obesity. They form the basis for nutrition education programs, federal nutrition assistant programs and dietary advice provided by health professionals. We all know that Americans need to eat less and be more active, however the 7th edition of the Dietary Guidelines provide government support to help Americans become healthy.

They confront the obesity epidemic by placing a much stronger emphasis than ever before on reducing calorie consumption and portion sizes. They also emphasize a total diet approach encouraging people to eat more of some foods and less of others. The key recommendations encourage Americans to eat more nutrient-rich food such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fat-free and low-fat dairy products and seafood. They stress the importance of reducing intakes of saturated and trans fats, added sugars, refined grains and sodium. They recommend to aim for 150 minutes of physical activity per week for weight maintenance and balancing calories consumed with calories burned. In the past, the guidelines have offered little concrete advice previously urging Americans to simply “increase fruit and vegetable intake” and “decrease consumption of sugary beverages”.

The 2010 guidelines now offer more clarity and visual support such as “make half of your plate fruits and vegetables” and “drink water instead of sugary drinks”. This makes the guidelines less vague and even offers strategies on how to implement them. Other key recommendations include sodium consumption. While they maintain their previous recommendation of no more than 2300 milligrams (1 teaspoon) of sodium per day, they ask Americans to reduce their daily sodium intake even further to 1500 milligrams (2/3 of a teaspoon) per day for people over the age of 51, African-Americans, and those with a history of high blood pressure, kidney problems, or diabetes. This recommendation will apply to about half of the U.S. population. They even provide specific ways as to how Americans can reduce their sodium intake. In terms of dairy intake, the guidelines maintain the 2005 recommendations that children ages 2-3 years old obtain 2 servings per day of low-fat or fat-free dairy and that Americans ages 9 and older obtain 3 servings per day, however the recommendation was increased from 2 to 2.5 servings per day for children ages 4-8.

Helpful hints for health professionals to encourage these recommendations are included as well. It remains to be unseen if these revisions will bring about any real change in the near future but are definitely one more step towards confronting and reducing the obesity epidemic in America.


Entry filed under: Diet/Nutrition, Exercise, Healthy Lifestyle, Obesity. Tags: , , , .

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