New US food guidelines stress self-restraint

January 13, 2005 in Healthy Eating, Nutrition Topics in the News

New US food guidelines stress self-restraint

New eating guidelines issued by the U.S. government on Wednesday stress losing weight by eating more vegetables, fruits and whole grains but stop short of limiting any specific food group.

People should take responsibility for exercising, eating less and eating better food, the new U.S. Department of Agriculture and Health and Human Services guidelines say.

They recommend eating up to nine servings of fruits and vegetables a day, unchanged from the 2000 food pyramid, but specify that at least three of the daily servings of grains be whole grains such as whole wheat, oats or brown rice.

The guidelines, published on the Internet at do not yet have the old familiar "food pyramid" shape and Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman said her department was still discussing whether to continue using the pyramid format.

Consumer groups had hoped the panel would recommend that Americans limit soft drinks and other sugary foods, but the new guide does not specifically recommend cutting sugar.  Instead, it says Americans should try to get an initial 2,000 calories or so from the recommended groups and save sugars and pure fats for "discretionary foods."

Groups had also hoped that the guidelines would have specific recommendations on limiting certain unhealthy types of dietary fat, and perhaps even address the issue of advertising junk foods to children.

The range given for calories from fat is between 20 and 35 percent, with a recommendation that most fats eaten be polyunsaturated or unsaturated fats -- found in vegetable and fish oils. It advises people to "consume less than 10 percent of calories from saturated fatty acids and less than 300 mg a day of cholesterol."

Thompson said the guidelines are meant in part to help Americans understand that they are responsible for their own health and cannot rely on diet drugs.

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