Cross-posted from the Let’s Move Blog
By Tom Vilsack, Agriculture Secretary
I’ve just received an important report about diet and health, and wanted to share with you some of what it says. The Advisory Report is from the 2010 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, and it is directed to me and to Secretary Sebelius at Health and Human Services. We will be using this report as the basis for finalizing the Dietary Guidelines for Americans by the end of the year. This report is a summary of the absolute best and most up-to-date science available, written by a group of 13 prominent independent experts in nutrition and health.
Their guidance is important because their recommendations provide the basis for important policy decisions related to the Food Pyramid, school meals, the WIC program, and other nutrition programs that USDA manages. The report highlights four major action steps for Americans to improve their diet and health:
The first is to reduce overweight and obesity by reducing overall calorie intake and increasing physical activity. The committee said that the obesity epidemic is the single greatest threat to public health in this century.
The second step is to eat more vegetables, cooked dry beans and peas, fruits, whole grains, nuts, and seeds. In addition, eat more seafood and fat-free and low-fat milk and milk products, and moderate amounts of lean meats, poultry, and eggs.
The third step is to cut out most added sugars and solid fats. Foods with added sugars and solid fats have unneeded calories and few, if any, nutrients. Also, to reduce sodium and eat fewer refined grains, especially desserts.
The final step is to “Meet the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.” This means to get up and move more—lots more! It is important for overall health and it helps burn calories to keep weight in balance.
How to put all of this advice together? The Committee identified several ways to build a total diet that meets nutrient needs, but stays within a person’s “calorie budget.”
The Advisory Committee was very concerned about the health of children—as we are at USDA. Obesity in children has tripled in the past 30 years, and we need to tackle that problem.
Between now and July 15, the public will have an opportunity to read and comment on the Advisory Report. You can find the report online. In early July we’ll also be holding a meeting here in Washington where the public can come provide oral testimony on the Advisory Report. We look forward to receiving and reviewing your comments. After evaluating your feedback, USDA and HHS will work together to develop the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which we expect to release at the end of the year.