New Dietary Guidelines for Americans Issued by USDA and HHS

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Kathleen Sebelius announced the release of the new 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans on January 31, 2011. This is the 7th edition of the Dietary Guidelines, the federal government’s official evidence-based nutritional guidance to Americans, which are published every five years. The purpose of the Guidelines is to promote health, reduce the risk of chronic diseases, and reduce the prevalence of overweight and obesity through improved nutrition and physical activity.

Finding that more than one-third of children and more than two-thirds of adults in the United States are overweight or obese, this new edition of the Dietary Guidelines places stronger emphasis on reducing calorie consumption and increasing physical activity. The Guidelines encourage Americans to eat more healthy foods like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, fat-free and low-fat dairy products, and seafood, and to consume less sodium, saturated and trans fats, added sugars, and refined grains.

“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,” said Secretary Agriculture Vilsack. “The bottom line is that most Americans need to trim our waistlines to reduce the risk of developing diet-related chronic disease. Improving our eating habits is not only good for every individual and family, but also for our country,”

“The new Dietary Guidelines provide concrete action steps to help people live healthier, more physically active and longer lives,” said HHS Secretary Sebelius.”

The 2010 Dietary Guidelines include 23 Key Recommendations for all Americans and six additional Key Recommendations for specific population groups, such as women who are pregnant. The USDA and HHS recommend that to get the full benefit, all Americans should carry out the Dietary Guidelines recommendations in their entirety.

The USDA and HHS provided the following tips as a preview of the key recommendations:

  • Enjoy your food, but eat less.
  • Avoid oversized portions.
  • Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.
  • Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk.
  • Compare sodium in foods like soup, bread, and frozen meals – and choose the foods with lower numbers.
  • Drink water instead of sugary drinks.

The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans is a 110 page document that can be accessed in its entirety in PDF format, or along with a helpful clickable index, on the joint FDA and HHS website,

The USDA and HHS have announced that they will release more consumer-friendly advice and tools, including a next generation Food Pyramid, in the coming months.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans provide authoritative advice for people 2 years and older about how proper dietary habits can promote health and reduce risk for major chronic diseases.

The Dietary Guidelines are jointly developed by USDA and HHS every five years, based upon a review of the scientific literature, which is mandated by Congress. The last official Dietary Guidelines were issued in 2005. Read more about the differences between the 2005 and 2010 Guidelines in the New York Times. The Dietary Guidelines aid policymakers in designing and implementing nutrition-related programs. The Guidelines form the basis of nutrition education programs, Federal nutrition assistance programs such as school meals programs and Meals on Wheels programs for seniors, and dietary advice provided by health professionals.

The Guidelines are relied upon by education and health professionals, such as nutritionists, dietitians, and health educators as a compilation of the latest science-based recommendations. A table with key consumer behaviors and potential strategies for professionals to use in implementing the Dietary Guidelines is included in the appendix.

Again, the full 2010 Dietary Guidelines is available at

For more information on dietary guidelines, see and

See the government’s official press release regarding the Guidelines » USDA and HHS Press Release on 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.


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