The Dietary Guidelines by definition, are a set of recommendations made by the United States Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Agriculture. The guidelines outline the USDA's dietary advice to promote health and reduce risk of chronic disease. The guidelines are revised every 5 years - and this year, their number is up. The USDA released the preliminary version of the new guidelines last Tuesday. And guess what? Not much has changed... In fact, 'not much has changed' has been the story for the last 30 years! There's a quote that goes, "If you keep doing what you've always done, you'll keep getting what you've always got." This rings true for the virtually unchanged guidelines and the condition of the nation's health. Over the past 30 years the number of American's that are overweight and obese has skyrocketed. Additionally, cases of diabetes, heart disease, diet related cancers, and overall healthcare costs have risen to match. Nonetheless, once again, little is changing - and the small changes that have been proposed are likely not going to make a great deal of difference.
On a positive note the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee has acknowledged the lack of progress and states that the 'new' recommendations are aimed at "an American public of whom the majority are overweight or obese and yet undernourished in several key nutrients." The new guidelines supposedly 'recognize' that the recommendations outlined are not 'easy for people to follow' and call for improvements in nutrition literacy and cooking skills to promote the use of fresh foods prepared at home.
Will the 'new recognition' and slight changes make a difference? I'm not holding my breath... For what it's worth here's a look at what's changed from the 2005 guidelines:
-Saturated fat limits have been decreased from 10% of total calories to 7%. Emphasis is put on replacing saturated fats with "more healthy" mono- and polyunsturated fats. All I can say is - No Comment...
-Trans fat recommendations have been lowered from 1% of total calories to 0.5%.
-Sodium intake has been reduced from 2300 mg/day to 1500 mg/day.
-Recommendations have been made to consume two, 4 ounce servings of seafood/week to obtain 250 mg/day of Omega-3 DHA and EPA.
-The guidelines for protein and carbohydrate remain the same, but the 'expert' panel is calling for a shift to a more plant-based diet. Additionally, they are recommending focus on nutrient dense rather than energy dense foods.
That's it, and by the looks of it we're still being told to "Go with Grains", fear fat, and limit meat consumption... My prediction, we're going to "keep getting what we've always gotten".