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Dietary guidelines report released

The Report of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 was released in June by the US Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services.

The Guidelines are reassessed and reissued every five years in light of emerging science and perceived public health needs. Among the suggestions in the committee's report:

  • Decrease "solid" fat (saturated fat) intake from 10% of energy to 7%. Further, limit "cholesterol-raising" fats (saturated fats exclusive of stearate and trans fat) to less than 5-7% energy.
  • Lower daily sodium intake to 1,500 milligrams (mg) from 2,300 mg.
  • Eat more low-fat dairy products, vegetables, beans and peas, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and seafood. Specifically, the report recommends intake of 250 mg of long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids per day via consumption of 8 ounces (about 227 grams) of fish per week.
  • Cook more and eat out less.
  • Understand the idea of "discretionary calories."

In taking aim at the growing problem of obesity, the committee recommended that children should greatly reduce intake of sugar-sweetened beverages and consume less fruit juice. "The single most sobering aspect of this report," Committee chair Linda Van Horn wrote, "is the recognition that we are addressing an overweight and obese American population. . . . Everything within this Report is presented through the filter of an obesegenic environment in critical need of change."

RECOMMENDATIONS ON FAT INTAKE

Stephen Phinney, a professor at the University of California, Davis, and a proponent of high-protein diets, told the LA Times newspaper that he objects to the "continued demonization of saturated fats by the committee." He then cited the recent meta-analysis led by Ronald M. Krauss that found no association between saturated fat intake and heart disease or stroke (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 91:502-509, 2010).

Likewise, Margo Wootan, director of nutrition policy for the Center for Science in the Public Interest (a consumer advocacy group based in Washington, DC, USA), takes issue with the recommendation to limit cholesterol-raising fats (saturated fats exclusive of stearate and trans fat) to less than 5% to 7% of energy, calling it "misguided."

"Stearate may not raise cholesterol levels, but it is still not clear whether it contributes to heart disease in other ways. The advice is too complicated, and impossible for people to follow, since stearate is not listed on food labels," Wootan said.

Walter Willett of the Harvard School of Public Health told the Times that the review "represents progress." However, he suggested that the recommendation that the percentage of total fat be less than 35% of calories is out of date.

"The best available evidence demonstrates that percent of calories from fat in a diet has no bearing on weight loss-a point the dietary guidelines committee acknowledges. It makes no sense to base the dietary guidelines on an outdated recommendation."

The final 2010 guidelines will be released later in 2010. The report is available online at http://tinyurl.com/DietaryGuidelines.   





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