By Jon H. Harsch

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

WASHINGTON, Jan. 31 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius unveiled the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) Monday. This congressionally mandated update of the 2005 guidelines is billed as “the federal government's evidence-based nutritional guidance to promote health, reduce the risk of chronic diseases, and reduce the prevalence of overweight and obesity through improved nutrition and physical activity.”


The new DGA provides an easy-to-follow message to consumers, recommending three actions areas with six points to remember:

Balancing Calories

  • Enjoy your food, but eat less.

  • Avoid oversized portions.

Foods to Increase

  • Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.

  • Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk.

Foods to Reduce

  • Compare sodium in foods like soup, bread, and frozen meals—and choose the foods with lower numbers.

  • Drink water instead of sugary drinks.

The 2010 Dietary Guidelines are being released at a time when the majority of adults and one in three children is overweight or obese and this is a crisis that we can no longer ignore,” Secretary Vilsack said. “These new and improved dietary recommendations give individuals the information to make thoughtful choices of healthier foods in the right portions and to complement those choices with physical activity. The bottom line is that most Americans need to trim our waistlines to reduce the risk of developing diet-related chronic disease. Improving our eating habits is not only good for every individual and family, but also for our country.”

The basic DGA prescription is to consume more healthful foods like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, fat-free and low-fat dairy products, and seafood, and to consume less sodium, saturated and trans fats, added sugars, and refined grains.

Helping Americans incorporate these guidelines into their everyday lives is important to improving the overall health of the American people,” HHS Secretary Sebelius said. “The new Dietary Guidelines provide concrete action steps to help people live healthier, more physically active and longer lives.”

The 2010 Dietary Guidelines include 23 Key Recommendations for the general population and six additional Key Recommendations for specific population groups, such as women who are pregnant. The recommendations are intended as an integrated set of advice to achieve an overall healthy eating pattern. To get the full benefit, the Guidelines urge all Americans to follow the recommendations “in their entirety.” To support the effort, USDA and HHS will release their next generation Food Pyramid in the coming months.

USDA and HHS say that by following the Guidelines, “Americans can live healthier lives and contribute to a lowering of health-care costs, helping to strengthen America’s long-term economic competitiveness and overall productivity.”As mandated by Congress, the Guidelines form the basis of nutrition education programs, federal nutrition assistance programs such as school meals programs and Meals on Wheels programs for seniors, and dietary advice provided by health professionals.

The Dietary Guidelines aid policymakers in designing and implementing nutrition-related programs. They also provide education and health professionals, such as nutritionists, dietitians, and health educators with a compilation of the latest science-based recommendations.

To read the four-page executive summary of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines, click HERE. To read separate chapters or download the complete 112-page Guidelines, click HERE.

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