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US Government Releases New Dietary Guidelines

The newly released 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans reveals the latest recommendations for what should and shouldn’t be on your dinner plate. The guidelines are updated and published every five years to reflect current scientific knowledge in the fields of food, diet, and health. These new recommendations stand to influence the diets of millions of Americans, primarily because they help shape US food assistance programs, such as the USDA's National School Lunch Program and the School Breakfast Program, which together feed more than 30 million children each day. The guidelines also help form the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, which has about eight million beneficiaries. However, other Americans may also want to take note of the guidelines, as more than two-thirds of adults and nearly one-third of kids are overweight or obese in the US, and an estimated 117 million adults have preventable chronic diseases—many of which are related to poor eating patterns and physical inactivity. Here are some highlights from the new guidelines:

  • Limit sugar to 10 percent of daily calorie intake. That’s about 12 teaspoons of sugar in a 2,000 calorie per day diet. Research has linked high sugar intake to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease, even in people who are not obese or overweight.
  • Males: Reduce intake of meat, chicken, and eggs. Many men and teen boys consume more than the recommended 26 ounces of animal protein per week. The guidelines suggest replacing these foods with other protein sources, such as nuts, seeds, and seafood.
  • Cholesterol restrictions eliminated. The new guidelines remove the previous recommendation that cholesterol be limited to no more than 300 milligrams per day; however, they still recommend eating “as little dietary cholesterol as possible” to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • Limit sodium intake to 2,300 milligrams per day. Currently, the average sodium intake for Americans is 3,440 milligrams per day. There is evidence that higher sodium intake is related to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure. This new guideline applies to people 14 years and older and includes age appropriate limits for younger children with lower daily calorie intakes.

Source: 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans

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