FDA Releases New Dietary Guidelines

January 6, 2005

3 Min Read
FDA Releases New Dietary Guidelines

FDA Releases New Dietary Guidelines

WASHINGTONThe U.S. Departmentof Agriculture (USDA) and Health and Human Services (HHS) released the latestset of dietary guidelines for the general population. The new guidelines,designed to promote health and reduce the risk of major chronic diseases andobesity through diet and exercise, recommend Americans consume fewer calories,exercise regularly and increase their intake of fruits and vegetables.

The new guidelines reflect the consensus of a 13-member panelof scientists and doctors that spent nearly a year reviewing Americans dietand health.

Controlling caloriesnot limiting or eliminating certainfood groupsis the pathway to controlling weight, the panel concluded.

This includes choosing fats and carbohydrates wisely byseverely restricting artery-clogging trans fat; increasing consumption of highfiber fruits, vegetables and whole grains; and lowering intake of simple sugarsand refined grains. People should consume five to 13 servings of fruits andvegetables per day, depending on age and activity level, according to the newguidelines. Serving sizes were given in cups.

The panel also recommended Americans get 30 minutes ofmoderate exercise on most days, noting many adults need to exercise for 60minutes or more to prevent weight gain, while those who have lost weight mayneed to exercise for 60 to 90 minutes to prevent regain.

There are some changes to the old Food Pyramid, such as addingspecific recommendations for consuming oily fish such as salmon, trout orherring, rich in the heart-healthy omega-3 essential fatty acidseicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). According to the newguidelines, Americans should double their consumption of oily fish to two 4-oz.servings per week to combat heart disease. However, as most Americans are notbig consumers of oily fish, the recommendation poses an opportunity forsuppliers of high-quality fish oil supplements. According to Robert Orr,president of Ocean Nutrition Canada (ONC), the use of dietary supplements aswell as functional foods using GRAS (generally recognized as safe) fish oil areviable options to fulfill the USDA recommendation. Consumers now have theoption for food products possessing the health benefits of fish without the needto change their diets, Orr said.

In addition to oily fish, mention of dietary supplements andfortified foods also debuts in the new guidelines, with specific recommendationsfor particular population groups. For example, the guidelines advise women ofchildbearing age to take 400 mcg/d of synthetic folic acid from fortified foodsor supplements in addition to food forms of folate from a varied diet. Theguidelines also propose all individuals over the age of 50 meet theirRecommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for vitamin B12 by eating foods fortifiedwith vitamin B12 or by taking vitamin B12 supplements in crystalline form; suggest women consume foods fortified with iron; and recommendelderly and dark-skinned people take supplemental vitamin D.

The report takes another step in the right direction,albeit a small one, in recognizing the role of dietary supplements in anadequate diet, particularly for populations with special needs, said DavidSeckman, executive director and chief executive officer of the NationalNutritional Foods Association (NNFA), in a statement.

When it comes to supplements, these guidelines are moreideal than real. Studies confirm most Americans dont get adequate nutritionthrough the foods they eat. The nutrient gap the guidelines refer to is muchwider and affects more people than this report would lead you to believe.

Regarding this nutrient gap, Annette Dickinson, Ph.D.,president of the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), said dietarysupplements represent a realistic means for average Americans to consume enoughnutrients to satisfy the new guidelines. The fact is that many people do notget all the nutrients they need from diet alone, and there are clear healthbenefits from getting the full recommended amounts of all vitamins and minerals,Dickinson said.

Multivitamins and calcium supplements can provide consumerswith a major boost in their attempts to meet their nutrient needs whilecontrolling cost and avoiding excess calories. The 2005 Dietary Guidelines flagimportant nutrient shortfalls, and ideally the Food Guide Pyramid (when it comesout) should feature a flag on top to remind people to use appropriatesupplements in addition to improving their diets and adopting a healthierlifestyle. Supplements can be an integral part of an optimal diet and shouldalways be viewed in the context of a healthy lifestyle.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans2005 is available in its entirety atwww.healthierus.gov/dietaryguidelines.

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