I apologize for the late post today, but there is good reason… after months of delay, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 report was finally announced today by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Here’s my summary of what the new guidelines recommend.
The most significant change to the guidelines urges Americans to reduce their sodium intake. For those 51 and older, all African Americans and those with hypertension, diabetes or chronic kidney disease, the guidelines call for restricting sodium to 1,500 mg/day, a significant reduction from the current 2,300 mg/day recommendation. This is a tall order for what equates to half of the American population. For the rest of the population, the sodium intake guideline remains at 2,300 mg/day, a number that is not currently being met as the average American consumes 3,400 mg/day.
While the other guidelines remain relatively the same from the 2005 Dietary Guidelines, the messaging and emphasis has changed due to this being the first time the goverment is issuing guidelines geared towards a predominantly unhealthy and overweight population. The report and its recommendations focus on maintaining calorie balance to achieve a healthy weight and consuming nutrient-dense foods and beverages by achieving the following:
- limiting SoFAS, the new catch phrase for solid fats and added sugars
- reducing saturated fat intake to less than 10% of daily calories
- eating more fruits and vegetables (the more colorful the better)
- limiting consumption of refined grains and replacing them with whole grain options
- switching to low-fat and fat-free milk products from their whole fat and reduced fat (2%) counterparts
- increasing the amount of seafood consumed and in place of meat and poultry
- choosing foods that are high in calcium, vitamin D, fiber and potassium, as these are the nutrients most often missing in Americans’ diets
- choosing water over low-nutrient, high sugar beverages
It amazes me that I learned about the new dietary guidelines by watching live streaming video of the press conference on my computer, while at the same time participating with other dietitians in a chat on twitter. What we all agreed upon is that these guidelines need to be interpreted into real food suggestions for Americans, so that these important messages are not lost on a society that is overfed and undernourished. To that end, USDA and HHS are coming out with a consumer-friendly education paradigm, similar to the current mypyramid.gov, in two to three months. Whether the new paradigm is a slightly-revised pyramid or something entirely different is yet to be seen.
In the meantime, I will be providing clear food recommendations to back up each of the above guidelines in my next blog post on Monday, February 7th.
So stay tuned and please let me know your thoughts or ask questions about the new guidelines!