HHS, USDA Issue Revised National Dietary Guidelines Focused on Caloric Consumption, Exercise
U.S. Department of Agriculture and HHS officials on Wednesday released revised national dietary guidelines that focus on overall caloric consumption, daily exercise and whole grain consumption, the New York Times reports (Burros, New York Times, 1/13). The revised guidelines "hew closely" to draft recommendations released in August by a 13-member advisory committee that called for increased consumption of fruits, vegetables, fish and milk, the Wall Street Journal reports (Schaefer Munoz, Wall Street Journal, 1/13).
The guidelines will help establish recommendations for school lunch and other federal nutrition programs (Martin, Chicago Tribune, 1/13). In addition, the federal government will use the guidelines to revise the national "food pyramid," which in February will become the "food guidance system" (Wall Street Journal, 1/13). The food pyramid, first released in 1992, was never revised. FDA also likely will revise the nutrition facts label on packaged food products to include "household measures," such as cups and ounces, to indicate proper serving sizes (Chicago Tribune, 1/13).
According to the Washington Post, guidelines are part of a 71-page nutrition report that is "one of the largest and most detailed ever issued" (Squires, Washington Post, 1/13). The report recommends:
- Daily consumption of six ounces of grain products (New York Times, 1/13);
- Daily grain consumption should include three or more servings of whole grains, such as whole wheat, brown rice or oatmeal;
- At least 30 minutes of moderate exercise daily for individuals of normal body weight and 60 to 90 minutes of exercise on most days for children, adolescents and those who seek to control or reduce their body weight;
- Daily consumption of five to 13 servings of vegetables, compared with a 2000 recommendation of five to nine servings;
- Varied consumption of fruit and vegetables from different subgroups, such as dark green, orange and starchy vegetables;
- Daily consumption of three cups of low-fat dairy products, compared with a 2000 recommendation of two to three servings;
- Consumption of beverages with a small amount of or no added sugar;
- A limit on "discretionary calories";
- Daily consumption of less than 2,300 milligrams of salt, or about one teaspoon;
- Weekly consumption of eight ounces of fish, although pregnant women, nursing mothers and children should avoid some fish that contain mercury (Wall Street Journal, 1/13);
- Consumption of only lean meat, fish and poultry (Rabin, Long Island Newsday, 1/13);
- Consumption of less than 10% of calories from saturated fats and lower overall trans fat consumption (Wall Street Journal, 1/13);
- A limit on overall fat consumption to no more than 30% of total calories, compared with a 2000 recommendation of 20% to 35% (New York Times, 1/13);
- Consumption of foods high in potassium;
- A daily limit on alcohol consumption to one beverage for women and two beverages for men (Chicago Tribune, 1/13);
- Washing hands, food contact surfaces, fruits and vegetables to avoid illnesses from food (Higgins, Washington Times, 1/13).
According to the report, "When grabbing lunch, have a sandwich or whole-grain bread and choose low-fat/fat-free milk, water or other drinks without sugars." The report also recommends that U.S. residents participate in "regular physical activity and reduce sedentary activities to promote health, psychological well-being and a healthy body weight."
According to the Post, the report "put to rest speculation by consumer groups that food industry interests might dilute the recommendations" (Washington Post, 1/13).
The guidelines included in the report "stop short of directly addressing soft-drink consumption," the Journal reports (Wall Street Journal, 1/13). However, the guidelines on sugar consumption are "actually a bit stronger" than the draft recommendations, which only said individuals should "choose carbohydrates wisely," according to the New York Times (New York Times, 1/13).
The report does not include specific guidelines on the amount of daily trans fat consumption but recommends that the amount remain "as low as possible" (Mestel, Los Angeles Times, 1/13). The draft guidelines recommended that daily consumption of trans fat not exceed 1% of total caloric consumption. The lack of specific guidelines on the amount of daily trans fat consumption "was a clear victory for food manufacturers who rely on hydrogenated oils for a variety of processed foods and who lobbied against the numeric limit," the New York Times reports (New York Times, 1/13).
The guidelines on sodium consumption were "good news" for the salt industry because many had "braced for perhaps a lower recommendation," the Journal reports (Wall Street Journal, 1/13).
In the recommendations on increased consumption of daily products, the report cited research in part financed by the dairy industry that found low-fat dairy products helped individuals lose weight (New York Times, 1/13). Some experts maintain that consumption of a large amount of dairy products can contribute to an increased risk for ovarian and prostate cancers (Wall Street Journal, 1/13).
According to the New York Times, HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson and UDSA Secretary Ann Veneman "sounded more like diet gurus than Cabinet members" during the announcement of the guidelines (New York Times, 1/13).
Thompson called the guidelines a "solid combination" of research and common sense (Los Angeles Times, 1/13). He said, "The guidelines offer Americans achievable goals so they can control their weight and build stronger muscles and bones and reduce chronic illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease" (Campbell, Newark Star-Ledger, 1/13).
Thompson added, "Do you want to look better? Yes. Do you want to feel better? Yes. You lower your calorie intake, you lower your fats, your carbs. You eat more fruits and vegetables, more whole grains and you exercise. That's as simple as it can be. It is not too hard" (Quaid, AP/Long Island Newsday, 1/12).
"Every American is looking for NIH to come up with that pill (to lose weight). It's not going to happen," he said (Chicago Tribune, 1/13). Thompson recommended that U.S. residents "get down and do 10 push-ups and five sit-ups" when they watch television (New York Times, 1/13).
Center for Science in the Public Interest Director Michael Jacobson said that the guidelines "look to me like the strongest Dietary Guidelines yet introduced" (Washington Post, 1/13). He said, "Congress is really going to have to devote some money" to promote the recommendations," adding, "We don't see any big dollars coming along" (Chicago Tribune, 1/13).
No federal funds are allocated to promote the guidelines, and USDA and HHS have not announced partnerships with the private sector to distribute the recommendations, the New York Times reports (New York Times, 1/13).
According to Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), the guidelines "offer important advice on healthy eating, but unless accompanied by more aggressive and comprehensive efforts to combat obesity, they are not likely to have much of an effect." He added, "Much more needs to be done in Congress and throughout our communities to give Americans the tools they need to eat right and maintain a healthy weight" (Washington Post, 1/13).
Marion Nestle, a New York University food policy expert, said that "you need a degree in nutrition to read the report" (Ness, San Francisco Chronicle, 1/13).
James Hill of the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center called the guidelines on exercise "too daunting." He said, "We can't even get people to do 15 minutes, and now we are asking them to do an hour" (Hellmich, USA Today, 1/13).
Russell Pate, a University of South Carolina Arnold School of Public Health professor who helped draft the guidelines, said, "Frankly, I cringe a little at the 90-minute recommendation for maintaining loss of weight. But we were charged with approaching the guidelines from an evidence-based perspective, and we did our level best to do that" (Washington Post, 1/13).
Sugar Association President and CEO Andy Briscoe said, "We stand firm in our assertion that every major scientific review, including the Institute of Medicine macronutrient report, has concluded that there is not a direct link between added sugars intake and any lifestyle disease, including obesity. For the guidelines to infer any type of limit on added sugars is not science-based." (Washington Post, 1/13).
Stephanie Childs of the Grocery Manufacturers of America said, "Companies are introducing whole grains to products, reducing trans fat, offering lower-sugar options, and we're going to find an alternative to sodium" (USA Today, 1/13).
Several broadcast programs reported on the guidelines:
- ABCNews' "World News Tonight": The segment includes comments from Thompson; Veneman; Dr. Walter Willett of the Harvard School of Public Health; and Margo Wootan, nutritional policy director for CSPI (Stark, "World News Tonight," ABCNews, 1/12).
- APM's "Marketplace": The segment includes comments from Jacobson and Thompson (Palmer, "Marketplace," APM, 1/12). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.
- CBS' "Evening News": The segment includes comments from Nestle, Xavier Pi-Sunyer of Columbia University and Thompson (Kaledin, "Evening News," CBS, 1/12). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.
- NBC's "Nightly News": The segment includes comments from nutrition expert Katherine Tallmadge, Thompson and Veneman (Costello, "Nightly News," NBC, 1/12). The complete segment is available online in Windows Media.
- NPR's "All Things Considered": The segment includes comments from Charles Baker, vice president for scientific affairs at the Sugar Association; Jacobson; and Thompson (Knox, "All Things Considered," NPR, 1/12). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.
- PBS' "NewsHour with Jim Lehrer": PBS health correspondent Susan Dentzer discusses the guidelines (Suarez, "NewsHour with Jim Lehrer," PBS, 1/12). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.
- PBS' "Nightly Business Report": The segment includes comments from Jacobson; Alison Kretser, a dietician with the Grocery Manufacturers of America; and Thompson (Woods, "Nightly Business Report," PBS, 1/12). The complete transcript is available online.