New “Dietary Guidelines for Americans” have been revealed by federal health experts, on Thursday, January 7.
The recommendations, which have been in the making for the last few months, have been issued by the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (a structure within the United States Department of Agriculture), in conjunction with the United States Department of Health and Human Services.
These nutritional tips, which were first formulated back in 1980, have been revised and updated every 5 years, in order to constantly adapt to current dietary trends and major public health issues.
Their purpose is to provide consumers with scientifically-tested advice, so as to lower the prevalence of highly preventable conditions such as obesity, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
While these dietary guidelines have often been criticized for being modeled based on the business needs of the food industry, and have also been considered too vague or self-contradictory at times, they have always attracted the public’s interest.
The newly presented set of nutritional directions, which will be in effect between 2015 and 2020, contains an unusually precise and firm recommendation.
More exactly, it specifies that people should lower their consumption of added sugars, so that it represents less than a tenth of the number of calories they ingest on a daily basis.
At the moment, sugar accounts for 13% of the daily calorie intake of the average American, and half of this amount is obtained from sweetened drinks.
Even more strikingly, adolescents aged 14 to 18 tend to derive 17% of their energy intake solely from sucrose, so their dieting habits appear to be in desperate need of an overhaul.
While health officials have urged people on numerous prior occasions to increase their intake of veggies and fruit, while abstaining from consuming more harmful food items, it’s for the first time that an actual threshold has been named when it comes to sugar.
While no restrictions have been issued regarding carcinogenic processed meat or red meat, a limit has been imposed for sodium-filled products, children under the age of 14 being discouraged from ingesting more than 2,300 milligrams of salt on a daily basis.
Alcohol intake has also been analyzed by health experts, who have come to the conclusion that women should abstain from having more than one drink per day, while men shouldn’t exceed two daily drinks.
In addition, federal officials insist that consumers should favor dairy products with a low fat content, sources of protein (lean meat, eggs, nuts, fish and shellfish), plant-based oils, as well as grain products (out of which more than a half should be unprocessed).
The stricter guidelines have been praised by some researchers and public health organizations, who are hoping that dietary habits will be changed for the better among many Americans, just by paying heed to these recommendations.
For instance, Michael F. Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, has said that many modern-day ailments could have a lower incidence, if only people put this advice into practice.
On the other hand, the dietary tips are certain to infuriate executives from the refined sugar industry, given the fact that they’ve built a thriving commercial empire solely on people’s overpowering weakness for sweets.
Equally affected will be fast food restaurant chains whose meals are often excessively rich in fats and sugar, as well as food companies that rely on producing and commercializing snacks, sugary beverages, pre-packaged meals etc.
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