I must say I had a good laugh when these were announced 1/31 – then I got frustrated. The message is simple and supposedly evidence-based. The guidelines were written by lipophobes and the calories in/calories out believers.
Here is the summary for consumers (a new food pyramid will emerge soon, oh joy):
• Enjoy your food, but eat less.
• Avoid oversized portions.
• Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.
• Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk.
• Compare sodium in foods like soup, bread, and frozen meals – and choose the foods with lower numbers.
• Drink water instead of sugary drinks.
Yay, eat less. Who doesn’t know that and why has it taken so long for the USDA and HHS to come right out and suggest it? So why didn’t the guidelines address the food industrial complex that forces supersize portions on us? Yes, the entire guidelines are directed at the individual, as if we each live in a vacuum.
Look deeper at the executive summary, which will be translated into consumer messages, and these are some examples of what you will read:
•Reduce daily sodium intake to less than 2,300 milligrams (mg) and further reduce intake to 1,500 mg among persons who are 51 and older and those of any age who are African American or have hypertension, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease. The 1,500 mg recommendation applies to about half of the U.S. population, including children, and the majority of adults.
•Consume less than 10 percent of calories from saturated fatty acids by replacing them with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids.
•Consume less than 300 mg per day of dietary cholesterol.
•Keep trans fatty acid consumption as low as possible by limiting foods that contain synthetic sources of trans fats, such as partially hydrogenated oils, and by limiting other solid fats.
•Reduce the intake of calories from solid fats and added sugars.
How is the average American going to calculate their daily intake of sodium and saturated fat? Well, except the low percentage of us already trying to be good doobies and are using food tracking software. Is there really strong evidence for limiting dietary cholesterol when most of our cholesterol comes from internal production and the link between total cholesterol and heart disease not that strong. (Answer: NO) Won’t people see the mixed messages about limiting cholesterol yet using eggs and shrimp as “good food”? (And they are good foods.)
Who is least served by these new guidelines ? 1) The poor, who already have difficulty finding affordable lean protein; when more affordable food is higher in salt and sugar; who are assaulted by the fast food industry (Micky D’s anyone?) and are not be reached easily by generic guideline messages. 2) The obese who don’t lose weight on the “one-size-fits-all” diet of limiting calories. 3) Medical professionals looking for something to tell their patients/clients other besides “eat less, enjoy it more”.
I will be interested to see the new food pyramid, how the guidelines are translated in public health messages, and how the specific messages about what to consume are disseminated to those most at risk, i.e., the poor, the obese, those who do not trust the government.
My overall reaction is that was a colossal waste of government money and until Big Food industry is targeted, as well individuals, the country will not be served well by the USDA.
End of rant.