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Ubiquitous PDF: Updated dietary guidelines -- Americans should eat less, exercise more

January 12, 2005

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In what may seem to many like a no-brainer, the newly revised and released "Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005" from the federal government suggests that U.S. citizens reduce the fat (and salt and sugar) intake while adding more calorie-burning exercises to increase physical fitness. Updated every five years, the latest version of the illustrated, 84-page report [PDF: 3 MB] jointly produced by the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS), and the Department of Agriculture (USDA) "provides information and advice for choosing a nutritious diet, maintaining a healthy weight, achieving adequate exercise, and 'keeping foods safe' to avoid foodborne illness."

"The more we learn about nutrition and exercise, the more we recognize their importance in everyday life," the department chieftains comment in their introduction, setting a tone for probably the most healthy lifestyles-oriented guidelines ever issued by the U.S. government -- and none too soon given the country's rampant, well-documented obesity and associated maladies. They warn that "many Americans must make significant changes in their eating habits and lifestyles."

Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005The PDF-based report suggests how that might be accomplished -- in short, cutting back on consumption of most fats, sugars and salt while exercising regularly and making whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products the core of the family diet.

Next up for revision is the so-called Food Guide Pyramid, the USDA's related food guide introduced in 1992 to help Americans plan, evaluate and choose foods for a healthy diet. It has been undergoing a period of reassessment "to ensure that the food guidance system reflects the latest nutritional science." A new version is expected to be released later this year -- and some speculate the traditional pyramid-shape [PDF: 480kb] may give way to a circular graphic to better represent the current recommendations.

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