- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Americans should follow the age-old advice of cutting back on chips and engaging in daily, moderate exercise, according to a government health report released yesterday.

The latest dietary guidelines, which will be the basis for the new food pyramid guide in the spring, were released yesterday by the Agriculture and Health and Human Services departments.

The report, which is produced primarily for physicians and health policy-makers every five years, puts more emphasis on exercising and reducing caloric intake than past editions.

The Agriculture Department in the spring will release an updated food guide, replacing the 1992 food pyramid, as a consumer-friendly version of the latest guidelines, said spokesman Ed Loyd.

Outgoing Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman said yesterday the agency was reworking the food guide and would not say whether it would remain in a pyramid shape.

The government started the dietary guidelines in 1980 as science-based advice for healthy eating.

While past reports have encouraged exercise as part of a healthy lifestyle, the new report devotes an entire section to the types of moderate exercise, like walking, that are best for adults, children and senior citizens.

The report comes as two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese and 50 percent fail to get enough exercise to stay healthy, outgoing Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson said.

“The choices we make every day of what to eat and how much to exercise will really determine how long we live, how much energy we have, and how healthy we really are,” he said.

The report gave 41 diet suggestions, 23 of which were for the general public. The other 18 focused on specific groups including children, pregnant women and senior citizens.

The general public should eat two cups of fruit and 21/2 cups of vegetables with 3 ounces of whole-grain products and three cups of low-fat dairy products while on a 2,000-calorie diet, it says.

In addition, adults should get 30 minutes of daily physical activity, while children should exercise for an hour. The report also advised eating fewer foods high in fat and sodium.

Robert Earl, nutrition policy senior director for the Food Products Association, said he saw little change from the 2000 version of the report.

The guidelines “emphasize positive dietary choices — to ensure good nutrition and adequate hydration — rather than taking a ‘good food/bad food’ approach,” said Mr. Earl, whose Washington trade group represents the $500 billion food-processing industry.

While food companies contributed research and opinions to the report, Mr. Thompson said they had little influence on the final version.

Trans fatty acids, one of the fats associated with an increased risk of heart disease, were not addressed specifically in the report because the Food and Drug Administration is studying their effects, Mr. Thompson said.

Trans fat, which is produced from partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, accounts for more than 80 percent of Americans’ total food intake, the report said. It advised consumers to eat foods with as little trans fat as possible.

Chicago dietitian David Grotto said the challenge now is translating the guidelines into advice that Americans can follow.

He suggested people imagine covering one-third of their breakfast, lunch and dinner plates with fruit or vegetables.

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