The federal government just released the 7th edition of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans–their nutritional guidelines created to promote health, reduce the risk of chronic diseases, and to help reduce the epidemic of obesity that is crippling the country.
More than one-third of children and more than two-thirds of adults in the United States are overweight or obese, thus, the new Dietary Guidelines places a stronger emphasis (than prior editions) on reducing calorie consumption and increasing physical activity. The state of our national health is pretty abysmal, and most of it can be linked to our eating habits. How’s this for a summary? 81.1 million Americans have cardiovascular disease; 74.5 million have hypertension; 24 million have diabetes; almost one in two will be diagnosed with cancer during their lifetime; one out of every two women and one in four men ages 50 years and older will have an osteoporosis-related fracture in their lifetime.
According to Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, “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.” Not for nothing, but I’m not sure how much help a 95-page report can really offer.
Essentially, we have a 95-page report versus the $1.6 billion dollars spent annually by food makers to market junk food.
In the late 1970s, 15 percent of adults were obese. In 2008, 34 percent of adults were obese. The food supply has changed dramatically over the
past 40 years. Foods available for consumption increased in all major food categories from 1970 to 2008. Average daily calories available per person in the marketplace increased by approximately 600 calories.
The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans include 23 Key Recommendations for the general population, here are the highlights:
• Enjoy your food, but eat less.
• Avoid oversized portions.
• Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.
• Compare sodium in foods like soup, bread, and frozen meals – and choose the foods with lower numbers.
• Drink water instead of sugary drinks.
Now picture the barrage of fast food advertisements and what they offer; talk about major disconnect! Aside from basic practices of healthy eating and encouraging exercise, the new guidelines mention specifics, such as:
Burger King BK Big Fish: 1450 mg
Whopper with cheese: 1450 mg
Wendy’s Baconator: 1880 mg
McDonald’s Big Breakfast with Hotcakes 2260 mg
Burger King Biscuits and Sausage Gravy: 2350 mg
• Consume less than 10 percent of calories from saturated fatty acids by replacing them with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids.
• Consume less than 300 mg per day of dietary cholesterol.
• Keep trans fatty acid consumption as low as possible by limiting foods that contain synthetic sources of trans fats, such as partially hydrogenated oils, and by limiting other solid fats.
• Reduce the intake of calories from solid fats and added sugars.
• Limit the consumption of foods that contain refined grains, especially refined grain foods that contain solid fats, added sugars, and sodium.
It’s heartening to see that the government is realizing just what a problem obesity has become, but we’re going to need more than a 95-page report to get this country’s health back in line. Why can’t the fast food/junk food industry be held accountable for some of these tasks?