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Monday, July 8, 2024 | Back issues
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New Diet Guidelines Call for Fewer Sweets, Less Fat

WASHINGTON (CN) - The U.S. Department of Agriculture and Health and Human Services announced their updated dietary guidelines for the next five years, which focus on preventing chronic disease.

The guidelines, announced Thursday, aim to help Americans reduce obesity, diabetes, hypertension and heart disease, and encourage both long-term healthy eating patterns and making small changes in the short-term.

"Making changes to eating patterns can be overwhelming. That's why it's important to emphasize that every food choice is an opportunity to move toward a healthy eating pattern. Small shifts in food choices, over the course of a week, a day, or even a meal, can make a big difference," according to the guidelines.

"Protecting the health of the American public includes empowering them with the tools they need to make healthy choices in their daily lives," Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell said in written statement accompanying the guideline's release.

"By focusing on small shifts in what we eat and drink, eating healthy becomes more manageable. The Dietary Guidelines provide science-based recommendations on food and nutrition so people can make decisions that may help keep their weight under control, and prevent chronic conditions, like Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease," Burwell said.

Specifically, the recommendations for healthy eating patterns include an abundance of colorful vegetables, legumes, fruits, whole grains, fat-free or low-fat dairy, a variety of protein foods and healthy oils such as olive oil and nut and seed oils.

Americans are encouraged to limit added sugar to less than 10 percent of daily calories, to limit saturated and trans fats to less than 10 percent of daily calories, and to reduce sodium intake to less than 2,300 milligrams per day. According to a chart in the guidelines, 90 percent of Americans consume too much salt, and 70 percent consume too much added sugar and saturated fats, while only 10 percent eat enough vegetables.

The agencies stress that healthy eating patterns include both the food we eat, and the beverages we drink.

The dietary guidelines also encourage the role of home, schools, workplaces, communities and food retailers in supporting healthy choices, and include exercise recommendations. Consumers are encouraged to focus on variety, nutrient-dense foods, and portions.

"The Dietary Guidelines for Americans is one of many important tools that help to support a healthier next generation of Americans," Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said. "The latest edition of the Dietary Guidelines provides individuals with the flexibility to make healthy food choices that are right for them and their families and take advantage of the diversity of products available, thanks to America's farmers and ranchers."

Designed to take the confusion out of what constitutes healthy eating for consumers, the guidelines were developed by an external advisory committee that included researchers and scientists in the fields of nutrition, health and medicine, which met in public meetings from June 2013 to December 2014.

The committee reviewed scientific literature and analyzed new data and food pattern models. Public input was encouraged, and the findings were peer-reviewed by non-federal experts as well as by federal agencies with nutrition and health expertise, including the Centers for Disease Control, the National Institutes of Health, the Food and Drug Administration and the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service, according to the announcement.

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