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Local Conference: Your Dietary Guidelines Are Changing

Miriam Bowers Abbott Miriam Bowers Abbott Local Conference: Your Dietary Guidelines Are ChangingImage via The National Institutes of Health.
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Every five years, the United States issues a revision of its Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The last revision was in 2010, and the newest recommendations are scheduled for announcement in January of 2015.

This last week, The Ohio State University hosted a summit on the impending changes. An assembly of policy wonks, nutrition and food science experts gathered to focus on the upcoming, unannounced changes in recommendations, and how those changes might impact American health as well as food production and industries.

Intuitively, it wouldn’t seem like guidelines should change that much in 2015. A healthy human body isn’t exactly a moving target: it’s an entity that is subject to the laws of science.

And in fact, as the keynote speaker, Roger Clemens, noted, the guidelines don’t change that much* – at least in some ways. His presentation featured slides that traced the evolution of revisions for substances such as fats, sugars and starches:

recommended-fat

Clemens, who served on the team to develop the 2010 standards, also pointed out that the statistics for heart disease in the United States also haven’t changed much since 1979. That is to say, the guidelines don’t seem to have made Americans any healthier.

In fact, as other speakers noted, Americans might be getting less healthy. Obesity is a growing problem (no pun intended).

Based on comments from conference panelists at the summit, here’s where we stand right now:

  • With respect to the official 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the average American eats 53% of the recommended amount of fruit.
  • The average American also eats only 57% of the recommended amount of vegetables (that figure is much lower in children, they eat less than 40% of the recommended amount).
  • The average American consumes only about 59% of the recommended amounts of dairy.
  • High income and low income people fail to meet the dietary guidelines at the same rates: income does not make a difference.
  • Consumption patterns outside the home (restaurants) are not the problem. The bulk of bad decision-making is happening inside the home.

Will the 2015 guidelines change the trajectory? Time will tell.

*The keynote speaker also made observations about dietary recommendations shifting as culture and science shifts. He pointed to the current trendiness of sugar research, and the tendency of media sources to sensationalize and misrepresent very weak studies: “It’s all in how you manipulate the data.”

To learn more about the OSU conference, CLICK HERE.

To find out how many vegetables you should be eating, visit www.choosemyplate.gov.

To see the history of recommendations, CLICK HERE.

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