Groups Praise USDA's New Dietary Guidelines

WASHINGTON — A variety of consumer advocates, produce industry groups and others praised the U.S. Department of Agriculture's new 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which were released last week. The Center for Science in the Public Interest said that these new guidelines offered clearer, more specific advice than the guidelines have in the past. Rather than just giving the vague advice to lower

WASHINGTON — A variety of consumer advocates, produce industry groups and others praised the U.S. Department of Agriculture's new 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which were released last week.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest said that these new guidelines offered clearer, more specific advice than the guidelines have in the past.

“Rather than just giving the vague advice to lower sugar intake, they now recommend drinking water in place of soda and other sugary drinks, which are by far the largest source of sugar in Americans' diets,” Margo Wootan, CSPI nutrition policy director, said in an official statement. “Importantly, the Guidelines call for ‘an immediate, deliberate reduction in the sodium content of foods’ and for ‘effective policies to limit food and beverage marketing to children.’”

Officials at the Produce for Better Health Foundation noted that the guidelines urge consumers to fill half their plate with fruits and vegetables during meals — a maxim that PBH has been using in its nutrition education efforts for years.

“We've used the half your plate message as a way to explain the quantity of fruits and vegetables that are needed, ever since the 2005 dietary guidelines changed the recommended servings or cups of fruits and vegetables needed by consumers, which varies widely depending on age, gender and physical activity levels,” said Elizabeth Pivonka, president and chief executive officer of PBH.

And, the Nutrition Keys initiative — a voluntary front-of-pack labeling program launched in January by the Food Marketing Institute and the Grocery Manufacturers Association, could help consumers follow the new guidelines, FMI President and CEO Leslie G. Sarasin suggested in the group's official statement on the new guidelines.

“Today's supermarkets play an integral role in helping customers lead healthy lives by offering a wide variety of nutritious foods and providing health and wellness information … The Nutrition Keys initiative … will help shoppers implement the Dietary Guidelines by including information about sodium, saturated fat, calories and sugar on the front of food and beverage packages beginning later this year,” Sarasin said.

“The icon will inform consumers about how the nutrients in each product fit into a balanced and healthy diet as part of the new federal daily dietary guidelines, including up to two nutrients to encourage such as potassium, dietary fiber, calcium and vitamin D.”