The USDA Health and Human Services published its new 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans on January 7, 2016. The guidelines serve as one of the most important science-based tools to advise Americans on how to eat a healthy diet, and are the backbone of the nation’s food policies. As such, these guidelines are extremely important for our health and should follow closely the recommendations given by the Advisory Committee – which studied scientific evidence on how our dietary patterns, including specific foods and nutrients, have an effect on health outcomes.

food pyramidThese new guidelines are definitely an improvement over the old ones and a big highlight is the recommendation for people to follow a healthy eating pattern across a lifetime, including lots more vegetable and fruits, not only in volume, but also in variety. According to Lynn Silver, MD, MPH, Senior Advisor at the Public Health Institute,

Dietary risks are currently the leading underlying risk factor of death in the United States, associated with 559,000 deaths in 2013. The guidelines place a new, stronger emphasis on overall patterns of healthy eating as a whole, rather than on individual foods or nutrients in isolation, which is the best approach to mitigating the risk of diet-related chronic disease. Still, the report did—rightly—target one of the biggest single culprits in chronic disease: added sugar. The new recommended limit of no more than 10% of daily caloric intake for added sugars highlights and addresses the role of added sugars in relationship to obesity, diabetes and tooth decay, as well as heart disease, stroke, hypertension and other health problems.”

Unfortunately, the actual guidelines are not as comprehensive and beneficial as they could be, and many of the advisory committee’s recommendations were left unchecked.

To read more about what the guidelines are and what was missed in them, please see my full article at Ceres.

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