Released at the end of January, the guidelines are revised every five years in order to ensure dietary recommendations for Americans take into account the latest scientific developments in nutrition and up-to-date public health information.
The latest edition reiterates many of the recommendations of the 2005 version, but adds several important new recommendations, including a strong focus on taking a healthy approach to weight management, reducing solid fat and added sugar consumption, and reducing maximum sodium consumption recommendations for more than half of the population. Rodriguez named these examples – as well as increasing fruit and vegetable consumption – as particular areas of focus in which dietitians can help consumers, the food industry and organizations adapt to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines.
“Every revision of the DGA is an opportunity to highlight our expertise and ‘re-grab’ the attention and interest of a diverse population,” Rodriguez wrote in the latest issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association (JADA).
She added that there are particular dietary disparities for racial and ethic minorities, rural and urban populations, children, the elderly and those who have severe economic difficulties – and targeted approaches are needed to help these Americans meet healthy eating goals.
Rodriguez said dietitians and researchers should see the guidelines’ release as an opportunity to effect science-based dietary change and positive public health outcomes.
“For practitioners, this is an opportunity to work with clients and agencies to create new messaging, to help them change, adopt, and adapt policies and processes that support the DGA,” she wrote. “For researchers, this is an opportunity to study intended and non-intended consequences of dietary guidance and changes on the population's health.”
At the American Dietetic Association’s annual Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo in November, reducing Americans’ daily maximum sodium consumption to 1,500mg was flagged as a particular challenge, which the guidelines ultimately recommended for groups that make up over half the US population – blacks, those aged 51 or over, and those with hypertension, chronic kidney disease and type-2 diabetes. The average daily intake among US adults is about 3,400mg.
Cutting consumption of sugar is also an area that poses significant difficulties, as research suggests US women consume about 13.4 percent of their calories from added sugars, and men about 15.3 percent.
Current guidelines from the American Heart Association specify that calories coming from added sugars should be limited to about 100 per day for women and 150 per day for men in order to reduce heart disease risk – about five percent of total daily calorie intake.