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USDA and HHS Release the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans

Issue February 2011

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans are revised every five years to reflect the current state of nutrition science as it relates to the health of Americans. The Dietary Guidelines also serve as the blueprint for federally funded nutrition programs, including education, research, nutrition assistance, labeling, and nutrition promotion. The new 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans covers many issues including:

  • Balancing calories
  • Managing weight
  • Reducing certain foods and food components
  • Consuming foods and nutrients to build healthful eating patterns
  • Helping Americans make healthful choices. 

A detailed, yet succinct overview of the Dietary Guidelines recommendations can be found in the four-page executive summary.

This iteration of the Dietary Guidelines, which focuses on helping Americans manage their weight and reduce risk of chronic disease, focuses on two major themes:

  1. Maintain calorie balance over time to achieve and sustain a healthy weight.
  2. Focus on consuming nutrient-dense foods and beverages.

The Guidelines are traditionally developed for a health professional audience who carry the policy recommendations forward by turning them into consumer-friendly messages.  For more than a decade, the Dietary Guidelines Alliance has been dedicated to assisting health professionals with this task.

  • The Dietary Guidelines Alliance, a public-private partnership among leading food, nutrition and health organizations and societies, food industry organizations and the government, is dedicated to providing consumers with science-based, practical advice on how to apply the Dietary Guidelines for Americans to their lives.

Anticipating the communication implications stemming from the 2010 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee Report, the Alliance conducted an in-depth consumer research project to help parents in their effort to improve the healthfulness of their families’ diets and level of physical activity. Insights from this research project align with the two major themes of 2010 Dietary Guidelines. According to the Alliance research, the following messages resonated well with families:

  • Take charge of your weight.  Balancing the calories you eat and drink with the calories you burn through physical activity puts you in control.
  • Base your plate on nutrient-rich foods that offer beneficial nutrients and fewer calories.  Choose fruits and vegetables, whole and enriched grains, lean meats, beans and nuts, and low-fat and fat-free dairy foods more often.

The Alliance research reveals more about the barriers and catalysts that can help motivate families to lead a more healthful lifestyle in 2011 and beyond. However, a “one-size-fits-all” approach to messaging may not be enough to move the needle and help Americans address their health concerns. These messages provide a starting point for conversations with people, which can lead them toward a healthy weight and active lifestyle. According to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines, health professionals, community leaders, small and large businesses, and policymakers all have a role to play in making the recommendations actionable for consumers. To learn more about the new Dietary Guidelines, including messages and tips, check out the survey research, Q&A About the Dietary Guidelines and blog entries on FoodInsight.org.

For consumer-friendly resources to help Americans build an overall healthful lifestyle, visit the Healthy Eating, Active Living section on FoodInsight.org and MyPyramid brochure, developed in partnership with the USDA and Food Marketing Institute.

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