A few days late, but I finally read through the entire 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans policy document, released by the HHS and USDA on Monday. And I have to say – hooray!
The theme of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines is perhaps best summarized by the opening lines of Michael Pollan’s popular and widely quoted New York Times Magazine piece: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” In six chapters and 95 pages, the key recommendations to eat less solid fat, sodium, added sugar and calories, and get more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lowfat/nonfat dairy and physical activity, come across in various ways.
What I love about this document is that it provides practical, useful strategies for promoting a healthy lifestyle, taking into consideration many non-food related obstacles, such as environmental pressures, access to safe environments to promote a more active lifestyle, and so on. While specific food groups and individual nutrients are discussed and highlighted, it’s done so in a package of logical information – what to eat more of, what to eat less of, how to get there, and how to address obstacles. The ultimate goal is to obtain or maintain a healthy body weight to reduce one’s risk for chronic disease.
Another key feature of this document is the special attention paid to specific populations and dietary patterns. Recommendations for certain nutrients changes across the life cycle is emphasized, and that nutrition is largely based on individual needs – great news for dietitians like me in clinical practice!
As the document states (and as some of my peers tend to forget), this document is meant to be used as a basis for developing health- and nutrition-related programs and promotions. The audience is policymakers and health professionals – not consumers. It is our job as health professionals to translate these guidelines, which are evidence-based and rooted in research, into actionable goals for our clients, audiences and constituents. It’s an exciting time to be a dietitian!