To some it was easily overlooked, but for those of us in health and nutrition, there was big news announced Tuesday. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released the Report of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010.
If you’re unsure what the Dietary Guidelines are and how they shape nutrition policy, this post is a quick summary with helpful links.
The actual guidelines – released by both agencies every five years – begin with this general analysis from the expert committee members. There are several steps between this initial advisory report and the final product, which will come later this year. Most importantly perhaps is the opportunity for the public to provide comments, which are now being accepted. (Start here to view or submit comments.)
The Guidelines are significant within the realm of nutrition, not only for educational purposes, but for establishing a reference point for policy creation. Programs that stand to be impacted by these recommendations include the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, WIC programs, and the National School Lunch Program.
Revisions to the 2005 Guidelines highlight changes in our nation’s health, and incorporate evidence from current research in nutrition to help establish the most appropriate recommendations for the public. It comes as no surprise that one of the most significant changes stems from our growing problem of overweight and obesity. To address this major concern, recommendations include consuming more plant-based foods, limiting intake of added sugars and fats, and increasing exercise.
Another aspect of the Guidelines that seems to receive less attention is the recognition that making dietary changes is not only challenging, but many people face multiple barriers in doing so. This brings to light problems such as food security, health literacy, food safety, and the critical importance of community involvement.
As with many governmental announcements, the 2010 Dietary Guidelines will be met with criticism. There are many who feel industry plays much too large a role in the process. Still others will find the Guidelines are not specific enough, or do not truly address the health concerns of the nation.
Whether or not you agree with the findings of the committee, the new Guidelines are headed our way by year’s end, and will become a significant part of the nutrition landscape. Since our blog philosophy is grounded in finding balance with eating, we leave you with this quote from the report: “The diet recommended in this Report is not a rigid prescription. Rather, it is a flexible approach that incorporates a wide range of individual tastes and food preferences.”
What’s your impression of the guidelines? Do you think they have a bearing on how you eat?