Are you up to date on the latest government recommendations for nutrition and fitness?
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans, published every five years, gives science-based information on dietary habits and physical activity to promote good health and reduce the risk of chronic disease. A report was recently released by the 2010 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) on whether or not revisions should be made to the 2005 Dietary Guidelines. Based on the research that has evolved over the past five years, the committee suggested updating the recommendations.
The 2010 DGAC report included these guidelines to promote nutrition for good health:
- Reduce overall calorie intake and increase physical activity to reduce the prevalence of obesity in the U.S.
- Focus more on a plant-based diet and increase intake of legumes, nuts, seeds, vegetables, fruits, and whole-grains.
- Increase consumption of low-fat milk products and seafood while keeping meats, eggs, and poultry to moderate intake.
- Decrease intake of foods with added sugar and solid fats (fats that are solid at room temperature, ie. butter, cheeses).
- Reduce consumption of foods that are high in sodium and foods high in refined carbohydrates (white bread, white rice).
- Meet the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines: For children and adolescents, the recommendation is 60 minutes of activity daily which should include a variety of aerobic activity, and age appropriate muscle and bone strengthening. For adults, the recommendation is at least 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity or 1 hour and 15 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity a week. Muscle strengthening is also suggested for adults twice a week.
The DGAC recognizes the barriers our society faces to achieving good nutrition and health. Thus, they made these suggestions for changes to our food environment that must occur in order to help Americans meet the guidelines for achieving good health:
- Practice cooking skills and encourage cooking family meals at home.
- Improve and increase the duration of nutrition, health, and physical activity classes in schools.
- Improve access and financial barriers to purchasing produce, whole grains, lean meats, seafood, and low-fat dairy.
- Increase the production of environmentally friendly foods such as local produce and grains.
- Increase availability of seafood through methods that are safe and not harmful to the environment. Create public access to information about purchasing safe seafood.
- Encourage restaurants and food companies to offer healthy food choices.
- Initiate the US National Physical Activity Plan, which strives to increase physical activity in our country by creating initiatives at local, state, and national levels, and through various sectors of society.
What About Our Kids?
The DGAC recommends that strategies must include an emphasis on children because preventing obesity begins in childhood. They believe that focusing on prevention in children is the most effective public health approach in the fight against obesity over the long term.
What Does This Mean For Us?
Start out by making small changes to your lifestyle. If you are a lover of white bread, switch it up to wheat bread. If you’re lacking on the vegetable front, make a goal to have vegetables at dinner 4 times a week. Make small goals for yourself that are realistic and achievable; you don’t want to set yourself up for failure. Get your kids interested in healthy eating.
The DGAC recognizes that some of the responsibility for achieving good health lies on public policies and some aspects of the food environment can be out of our control. However, as we increase our demand for healthy food choices, locally sourced products, and opportunities for physical activity, our grocery stores, restaurants, and government will respond to give us what we desire. We should feel empowered to make changes based on the 2010 Dietary Guidelines to better the health of our families and the country as a whole.