New US food pyramid to address obesity epidemic

February 4, 2004 in Healthy Eating, Nutrition Topics in the News

New US food pyramid to address obesity epidemic

The American government is moving to revamp its famous "food pyramid" dietary guidelines amid concerns that the increasingly obese American population is not getting the message about proper nutrition and exercise.

Officials said that the new guidelines - due to be released in the summer in draft form and finalized in January, 2005 - will likely reflect a key part of weight control that millions of Americans are missing: Burning calories through physical activity is as important as watching what you eat.

The current food pyramid was released in 1992, with an emphasis on carbohydrates from bread and grains and at least 5 servings per day of fruits and vegetables. Obesity has risen steadily since then, and today an estimated 61% of American adults are obese or overweight. The pyramid did not take into account the entire picture of what is causing Americans to gain weight in such alarming numbers. The focus was not on obesity and overweight in 1992.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that adults do 30 minutes of moderate exercise like walking or bike riding each day. More than 60% of adults do not achieve that level, according to the agency.

Officials are retooling the pyramid to reflect new nutritional recommend-ations laid out by the National Academies of Science in August 2002. Studies have shown that average Americans eat far more fat and sugar and far less fresh fruits and vegetables than the recommendations call for.

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