Department of Agriculture May Revise Dietary Guidelines To Address Obesity in United States
The Department of Agriculture has proposed new dietary guidelines to include specific calorie recommendations based on age, gender and activity levels, the New York Times reports. The recommendations for the first time acknowledge that 64% of Americans are overweight and need to eat less (Burros, New York Times, 9/10). The guidelines, which will be published Thursday in the Federal Register, are divided into 12 different calorie categories based on an individual's age, gender and activity level (Hellmich, USA Today, 9/10). For instance, the guidelines say that most women ages 35 to 70 should consume 1,600 to 1,800 calories per day and that most men in that age group should consume 2,000 to 2,200 calories per day. The previous guidelines, which assumed such people to be active, was about 600 calories more per day (New York Times, 9/10). The new guidelines also list food quantities in cups and ounces instead of serving sizes, which often vary (USA Today, 9/10). The guidelines will continue to recommend that people limit their total fat intake to 30% of daily calories and saturated fat to less than 10%, as well as limit sodium and sugar intake. The guidelines also will encourage increased consumption of foods such as fish that are high in omega-3 fatty acids, the AP/Las Vegas Sun reports (Gersema, AP/Las Vegas Sun, 9/9). The new recommendations are intended to meet the Institute of Medicine's new nutritional standards for vitamins, minerals and macronutrients such as protein, fat and cholesterol (New York Times, 9/10). Eric Hentges, executive director of the USDA's Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, said the guidelines will give "us a good start in solving the obesity epidemic" (USA Today, 9/10). However, Bonnie Liebman, director of nutrition at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, said the new guidelines make only minor changes and "would not make any difference," the Times reports. Liebman added that the USDA "is still not dealing with serious deficiencies" in the food pyramid, such as not distinguishing between high- and low-fat dairy products and good and bad fats (New York Times, 9/10). The new guidelines, which will be subject to a 45-day public review period, are not expected to be formally released until 2005 (USA Today, 9/10). The guidelines will be a basis for a new Food Guide Pyramid (New York Times, 9/10).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.