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New dietary guidelines released amid 'crisis' of obesity and diet-related diseases

Though the new guidelines don't differ greatly from the last recommendations, there's a greater sense of urgency as the majority of American adults and one in three children are deemed overweight or obese.

January 31, 2011|By Andrew Zajac | Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON -- New federal dietary guidelines released Monday urge Americans to avoid oversized portions, choose products that are lower in sodium, opt for water instead of sugary drinks and eat more fruits and vegetables -- half a plateful.

The guidelines are not radically different from the last version, released in 2005, but come with a sense of urgency driven by growing rates of obesity, diabetes and other diet-linked health problems among Americans.

"The 2010 Dietary Guidelines are being released at a time when the majority of adults and one in three children is overweight or obese and this is a crisis that we can no longer ignore," Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said in a statement accompanying the release of the new advice. The Agriculture Department coauthors the guidelines with the Department of Health and Human Services.

In a few instances, the 2010 guidelines go further than previous guidance. They recommend, for example, that consumers switch to fat-free or low-fat milk, while the 2005 guidelines simply advised consumption of 3 cups per day of such low-fat or fat-free dairy products.

Revised every five years, the guidelines influence decisions in school meal programs, Meals on Wheels, and regulatory issues such as food labeling and how foods are marketed to children.

Monday's guidelines did not include an update of the food pyramid, which is expected in the next few months.

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