New Dietary Guidelines report emphasizes plant-based diet
by Joan Murphy | June 20, 2010
WASHINGTON -- The 2010 Dietary Guidelines should recommend that
Americans shift their food intake patterns to a more plant-based diet that
emphasizes vegetables, cooked dry beans and peas, fruits, whole grains, nuts
and seeds, according to a new report delivered June 15 to top Obama
Every five years, the federal government names an advisory panel to
scrutinize the latest science and make nutritional recommendations to the
U.S. departments of Agriculture and Health & Human Services that later
become the Dietary Guidelines.
"The advisory report will provide USDA and HHS with a strong foundation for
preparing the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which will be released
by the end of this year," Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and HHS Secretary
Kathleen Sebelius said in a joint statement issued June 15.
The long-awaited report makes four major recommendations to help
Americans meet nutrition goals:
* Reduce the incidence and prevalence of overweight and obesity by reducing
overall calorie intake, increasing fruit and vegetable consumption and
increasing physical activity.
* Shift food intake patterns to a more plant-based diet that emphasizes
vegetables, cooked dry beans and peas, fruits, whole grains, nuts, and seeds.
In addition, increase the intake of seafood as well as fat-free and low-fat milk
and milk products and consume only moderate amounts of lean meats,
poultry and eggs.
* Significantly reduce intake of foods containing added sugars, solid fats and
sodium as well as lower intake of refined grains, especially refined grains that
are coupled with added sugar, solid fat and sodium.
* Meet the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.
"The report just made fruits and vegetables more important than ever before,"
Lorelei DiSogra, vice president of nutrition and health at the United Fresh
Produce Association, told The Produce News after scanning the new
She said that the report emphasizes the role of fruits and vegetables in
preventing childhood obesity and maintaining a healthy diet.
Kathy Means, vice president of government relations and public affairs for the
Produce Marketing Association, agreed that the advisory committee's report is
good news for the industy.
"In three of the four priority areas the committee listed, fruits and vegetables
can figure prominently -reducing calories, moving to a more plant-based diet
and avoiding foods with added sugars and fat," said Ms. Means.
"I was also pleased to see that they recommend looking at eating behaviors in
addition to what consumers eat," Ms. Means added. "Take snacking as an
example of an eating behavior. It would be great to help consumers shift to
healthier snacks like fresh fruits and vegetables."
Ms. DiSogra said that the report will arm the produce industry with more
ammunition to move the federal government closer to doubling fruits and
vegetables in federally assisted school meals.
"The Dietary Guidelines are critical to the food industry because they become
the basis for all nutrition assistance and nutrition education programs" at the
two agencies, Ms. DiSogra explained.
For the first time, the report includes a "call to action" that reflects the panel's
frustration with government policies such as outdated school meal rules and
farm requirements that act as barriers to increasing fruit and vegetable
"For example, recommended intakes of vegetables and fruit remain woefully
unchanged, despite continuing advice to markedly increase intake of these
foods," according to the report, which recommends that USDA and HHS
develop a national strategy to encourage people to eat more fruits and
The 13-member panel is saying, "do something different" to change people's
eating patterns, added Ms. DiSogra.
Federal officials are planning a public meeting July 8 on the report's
recommendations and will consider comments until July 15.