Expert Panel Updates Dietary Guidelines

June 29, 2010 at 7:25 pm Leave a comment

Emphasis on Plant based Food choices to improve overall health and reduce obesity

The new Dietary Guidelines were announced by the Institutes of Medicine The Dietary Guidelines are revised every five years and stand as national recommendations for optimum health. Unlike past guidelines, however, the 2010 guidelines address, “an American public of whom the majority are overweight or obese and yet under-nourished in several key nutrients.” Now, more than ever, it is crucial to act on these recommendations to prevent obesity and chronic diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes, stroke and many forms of cancer that are developing at ever young ages.

Highlights of the new Dietary Guidelines:

American’s, especially children, are eating too many calories in the form of solid fats and added sugar, especially sugary beverages (i.e., soda.) These nutrient void calories increase the risk of weight gain out of proportion with growth. Instead, we should be investing calories in fiber rich foods, such as whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and beans. A specific emphasis on choosing low-fat and fat-free milk and dairy products (i.e., yogurt, cheese) to reduce saturated fat consumption, while still providing important  vitamins and minerals, among them vitamin D and calcium.

Another key point stressed is that food choice is not the only factor that affects body weight. Behaviors, such as too much TV watching/screen time, not enough physical activity, eating out frequently, and skipping breakfast, contribute to weight gain. Parents should address these habits or better yet avoid these health traps as early in life as possible. Enough physical activity and play time are essential strategies for promoting healthy behaviors in childhood.

To promote healthy habits at home, the experts suggest:

Improving cooking skills to encourage more meals are cooked at home. The push for more frequent home cooking assures control over ingredients and portions, whereas restaurant meals typically come in super sized portions, delivering more fat, salt, sugar and calories than desirable.

Use Salt sparingly. Whereas the upper limit on sodium has been 2,300 mg of sodium a day, the new guidelines suggest 1,500 mg per day. This recommendation is now directed at children as well as adults. As stated in the guidelines, diseases related to high blood pressure begin in childhood. This point, again, reiterates the fact that healthy habits need to be established as early as possible to avoid many serious health consequences.

The guidelines recommend food to eat more of, nutrients to avoid, and positive lifestyle behaviors, such as daily physical activity Though adults need to be aware and proactive of their own actions, the real opportunity to prevent obesity in our children  is to initiate healthy

habits from the time children begin eating solid foods and crawling. Establishing healthy eating and activity habits will create a healthier generation armed with the knowledge to make good choices

Summary prepared by Britney Ellis, nutrition student at Rutgers

Entry filed under: Making Meals that Matter, Nutrition News. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

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