US Releases New Dietary Guidelines

With the recent emphasis on obesity and the new studies linking it to poor health the US government released a new set of dietary guidelines on January 12, 2004. The new guidelines call for Americans to reduce their calorie intake and to exercise for 30 to 90 minutes a day.

Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson stated, “Two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese, and more than 50 percent of us Americans do not get the recommended amount of physical activity, so the 2005 guidelines emphasize physical activity and calorie control more than ever before.”

The guidelines did make some specific recommendations, those included eating whole grains, reducing fat intake to less than 30% of total intake, and eating whole foods as opposed to processed foods. Additionally the guidelines indicated that we should get between 30 and 60 minutes of moderate exercise each day. However, to lose weight we should increase that to between 60 and 90 minutes each day.

Ann Veneman, US Agriculture Secretary was optimistic about the new guidelines, “Americans are interested in leading healthier lives, but they want credible, consistent and coherent information to help them make the best possible choices.”

Margo Wootan, nutrition policy director for the centre for Science in the Public Interest, a health advocacy group was a little more pessimistic that people will follow the government’s guidelines. She stated, “It has been a big problem in the past that basically, the federal government has published a booklet and then crossed their fingers and hoped that Americans ate better. That’s clearly not been enough. What we need is significant investment in programs and changes in policy and the food environment that help Americans to eat better and watch their weight.”