Dietary Guidelines for Americans: An Introduction

  • Dr. Taylor Wallace
  • June 28, 2019

Introducing the Dietary Guidelines for Americans

Sixty percent of adults in the United States are now living with one or more chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, type-2 diabetes.  That’s over 150 million Americans – not counting children and teenagers – whose daily lives are disrupted by poor health. These largely preventable diseases are drivers of the $3.5 trillion Americans spend on healthcare each year.  Half of deaths from heart disease, type-2 diabetes and stroke have been attributed to suboptimal dietary habits.

One of the most powerful pathways to health and longevity is proper nutrition and physical activity.  The Dietary Guidelines, published every 5-years, reflects the current body of nutrition science and provides advice on what to eat and drink to promote health and reduce risk of chronic disease.  It serves as the cornerstone of nutrition policy in the United States.  People who work in Federal agencies, public health, healthcare, education, and business all rely on the Dietary Guidelines when providing information on diet and health to the general public. The Dietary Guidelines are used by these professionals to:

  • Form the basis of Federal nutrition policy and programs
  • Support nutrition education efforts
  • Guide local, state, and national health promotion and disease prevention initiatives
  • Inform various organizations and industries

The Dietary Guidelines emphasize the need to focus on a health-promoting eating pattern “across the lifespan” that contains adequate essential nutrients and a caloric intake that supports healthy body weight and foods that reduce the risk of chronic disease.  It promotes diets with a variety of fruits and vegetables; whole grains; fat-free or low-fat dairy foods, and protein foods that contain minimal saturated fats, including eggs, seafood, lean meat and poultry, beans and peas, and nuts and seeds.

New Dietary Guidelines can be confusing, containing what seems like conflicting messages… but nutrition like every other science and technology field is constantly evolving!

Move Over Dietary Guidelines… Introducing MyPlate

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has developed MyPlate, a consumer friendly campaign that helps to illustrate the five food groups that are the building blocks for a healthy diet using a familiar image – a place setting or meal.  Use the “Find Resources” tab to create your own MyPlate plan and learn more about a healthy diet!

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