DIET GUIDELINES: New Rules More Flexible, Clearer on Fat
Noting that eating is "one of life's greatest pleasures," the new dietary guidelines released yesterday encourage consumers to shy away from too much saturated fat, salt, sugars and alcohol, the AP/Philadelphia Inquirer reports. For the first time, the guidelines include "special sections" on whole grains, food safety and weight control. And, in an attempt to be "more upbeat," the proposals urge Americans to take a "flexible and adventurous" approach in their food choices (Brasher, 2/4). The proposals, expected to be finalized later this year, hope to clarify the "grossly oversimplified message about fat." The revised guidelines suggest a diet "'moderate in total fat' but low in saturated fat and trans fatty acids," such as those found in whole milk dairy products, meats, poultry and baked goods. In an effort to recognize the nation's changing racial and ethnic composition, the guidelines suggest ways that ethnic foods can be incorporated into the nutritional goals of the recommendations -- and offer tofu and calcium-fortified milk as alternatives to traditional food recommendations such as low-fat dairy products.
Cheers and Jeers
Nutritionists hail the proposals as an "improvement," saying they hope they will "help end consumer confusion and send the message that Americans' health has been hurt by focusing on fat as the leading dietary culprit." One supporter said the new report "pays attention to different types of fat ... This is very important, and it makes the guidelines more consistent with numerous scientific studies" (Squires, Washington Post, 2/4). Cyndi Thompson, spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, said that the Dietary Guidelines Panel did "a really nice job of developing ... user-friendly" guidelines. She called them "positive," saying they send a moderation message (AP/Las Vegas Sun, 2/3). But Neal Barnard of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, which is accusing the panel of alleged racial bias in the guidelines and is suing the government, said, the alterations make the guidelines "indecipherable" (Washington Post, 2/4). The meat industry agrees, saying the change in wording about fats "will put a stigma on beef and pork." Mary Young of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association said, "Food choices should not be just about the amount of fat consumed [but] ... should take into account the important nutrients in foods that are needed for healthy diets" (AP/Las Vegas Sun, 2/3).