Friday, June 18, 2010

Weighing In on the 2010 Dietary Guidelines

This week the UDSA-DHHS Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee released their report for the 2010 Dietary Guidelines.  For RDs there is always excitement and interest in the Dietary Guidelines because they set the national framework for much of our nutrition education for the next 5 years. 

This year's report does not offer huge revelations in terms of overall nutrition. Check out the graphic on the right that I got from Marion Nestle's post.  These are the guidelines from 1980!  Not big shock that a lot of similar recommendations are in this years report. 

What is interesting is that some of the more subtle wording in recommendations might make some waves (my emphasis added):

  • "Shift food intake patterns to a more plant-based diet that emphasizes vegetables, cooked dry beans and peas, fruits, whole grains, nuts, and seeds."

  • "the goal [for sodium] should be 1,500 mg per day for the general population."

  • "Improve nutrition literacy and cooking skills, including safe food handling skills, and empower and motivate the population, especially families with children, to prepare and consume healthy foods at home."
Changing to a mostly plant-based diet, reducing sodium and improving cooking skills so that we can cook more meals at home would be a huge shift for this country.  As mentioned briefly in my previous post, we might need a food revolution to help reverse the current obesity epidemic. Well all three of these subtle changes, sound pretty revolutionary to me.  We are a nation of convenience especially when it comes to food.  We want the easiest, simplest, meals to eat.  We complain we don't have enough time to cook when in reality I think we just don't make it a priority.  

But let's be honest with ourselves.  How much change will these 2010 Dietary Guidelines really bring?  Just to give you a little Government 101, this report is from the Advisory Committee. The report is open for public comment from now until July 15th.  After July 15th,
.. [the] USDA and HHS will consider these and other comments as they translate the Advisory Report of the Committee into the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Secretary Vilsack and Secretary Sebelius will release the 2010 Dietary Guidelines policy document jointly at the end of 2010.
In lay mans terms, the Dietary Guidelines are not set in stone yet.  There is going to be some changes so stay tuned!

Regardless of what changes are made to the final guidelines, it's clear to me that more and more people are understanding the importance to making real food at home. I think Michael Pollan says it quite well when he writes, "“Eat food. Mostly plants. Not too much.”

The questions remains, will this country do it?  I think we can! 

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