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2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans to Target Obesity

BY: James Baran
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The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA)—scheduled for release in December—will focus on recommendations for reducing obesity and improving health, stated Robert Post, Ph.D., Deputy Director of the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, at a press conference hosted by USDA and IFT on Monday afternoon, July 19.

In June 2010, the USDA released the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) Report. The upcoming 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans will draw heavily from this report, which is unprecedented in addressing the obesity epidemic—the single greatest threat to public health in this century, said Post. Every section of the report was developed to address the challenges of obesity. For the first time, the report addresses children, whose prevalence of obesity has tripled in the past 30 years. The report discusses the relationship between dietary intake and childhood obesity and the effects of sodium intake on blood pressure.

Also for the first time, the report addresses eating behaviors, such as breakfast consumption, snacking, and fast foods, particularly in relation to weight control. It recommends that Americans shift food intake patterns to a more plant-based diet that emphasizes vegetables, cooked dry beans and peas, fruits, whole grains, nuts, and seeds.

The DGAC report identifies four nutrients of public concern for Americans: fiber, potassium, vitamin D, and calcium. They are singled out from a longer list of nutrients because of evidence that their low intake is directly related to health issues of public health importance. It also recommends that consumers reduce their sodium intake to 1,500 mg per day from the current goal of 2,300 mg, and it advises Americans to consume less than 7% of their calories from saturated fat. Seafood consumption is recommended; the report encourages consumption of 8 oz or two servings of seafood per week.

“One of the roles of the Dietary Guidelines serve is to stimulate product innovation,” explained Post. “Given what we have learned from the 2010 Advisory Report of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, the formulation for the future means using food science to make more healthier food choices … choices with fewer calories but are flavorful and appealing, less added sugar but are sweet and flavorful and appealing, less salt but are flavorful and appealing and safe, less fat but are savory and appealing, and more fiber but are flavorful and appealing.

“It also means incorporating more vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, seeds, beans, and peas into foods, along with seafood and fat-free and low-fat milk and milk products,” he added.

The food industry has contributed greatly to meeting public health through ingenuity in processing and formulating new foods, noted Post. He mentioned how canning  and freezing alleviated vitamin C deficiencies, how fortification of grains with folic acid offset the problem of neural tube defects, and how processing and preservation increase the availability of products like seasonal fruits and vegetables year-round. “Once again, a public in need is calling on that ingenuity to contribute to a public health solution,” Post concluded.