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New Dietary Guidelines Stress Portion Control, Less Sodium

Posted Feb 03 2011 12:00am
While the government has issued new dietary guidelines for us to follow, it's worth asking if anyone is listening.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans has been published jointly every 5 years since 1980 by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture . The recommendations form the backbone of federal nutrition policy, education, outreach, and food assistance programs used by consumers, industry, nutrition educators and health professionals

This year, the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans advocate portion control and issues specific guidelines for less sodium. But rather than a gentle reminder, both medical experts and government officials take a more direct tone in reminding citizens to cut back on the fat and amp up the fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

“The 2010 Dietary Guidelines are being released at a time when the majority of adults and one in three children is overweight or obese and this is a crisis that we can no longer ignore,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said.

It's not just a question of weight, although certainly the rates of obesity are alarming. Nearly 34 of adults and 18 percent of teenagers are obese . But even those at a lower weight should avoid too much sodium, which can cause high blood pressure , particularly in people who have heart disease and certain illnesses such as kidney disease and diabetes. The maximum sodium intake for everyone should be 2,300 mg daily which is approximately a teaspoon of salt. The dietary guidelines, for example, recommend that all African Americans and anyone over age 51 limit their daily sodium intake to 1,500 mg which is a bit more than half a teaspoon.

In addition to urging less sodium intake, the guidelines recommend water over sugary drinks and switching to fat free or low-fat (1 percent or skim) milk.

“The bottom line is that most Americans need to trim our waistlines to reduce the risk of developing diet-related chronic disease. Improving our eating habits is not only good for every individual and family, but also for our country,” Secretary Vilsack said.

-Sandra Crockett
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