2010 USDA Dietary Guidelines Are Announced!

The 2010 USDA Dietary Guidelines were released yesterday! Although a little late (isn’t it 2011?), none the less, it has arrived!  According the policy, “The goal of the Dietary Guidelines is to put this knowledge to work by facilitating and promoting healthy eating and physical activity choices, with the ultimate purpose of improving the health of all Americans ages 2 years and older.”  The guidelines are focused around food choices and physical activity since poor diet and physical inactivity have contributed the most to the epidemic of obesity affecting all ages of men, women, and children.  If weight is not a problem, a poor diet and lack of activity are associated with other chronic diseases.  “According to the American Dietetic Association, the newly released 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans offer a practical roadmap to help people make changes in their eating plans to improve their health.”  The two main focus points the guidelines mention are to:

Maintain calorie balance over time to achieve and sustain a healthy weight.


Focus on consuming nutrient-dense foods and beverages.

A main difference in the new guidelines is the shift in focus of food consumption patterns and encouraging individuals to consume more foods and nutrients of certain groups and less of others.  Since sodium and fat are linked to certain health conditions (heart disease, hypertension, stroke), the new recommendations address this particular concern.  In summary, the new guidelines recommend eating more:

  • Whole grains
  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Low-fat or fat-free milk, yogurt and cheese or fortified soy beverages
  • Vegetable oils such as canola, corn, olive, peanut and soybean.
  • Seafood

And recommend eating less:

  • Added sugars
  • Solid fats, including trans fats
  • Refined grains
  • Sodium

In summary, the guidelines recommend the following:

Foods and Food Components to Reduce

  • Reduce daily sodium intake to less than 2,300  milligrams (mg) and further reduce intake to 1,500 mg among persons who are 51 and older and those of any age who are African American or have hypertension, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease. The 1,500 mg recommendation applies to about half of the U.S. population, including children, and the majority of adults.
  • Consume less than 10 percent of calories from saturated fatty acids by replacing them with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids.
  • Consume less than 300 mg per day of dietary cholesterol.
  • Keep trans fatty acid consumption as low as possible by limiting foods that contain synthetic sources of trans fats, such as partially hydrogenated oils, and by limiting other solid fats.
  • Reduce the intake of calories from solid fats and added sugars.
  • Limit the consumption of foods that contain refined grains, especially refined grain foods that contain solid fats, added sugars, and sodium.
  • If alcohol is consumed, it should be consumed in moderation—up to one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men—and only by adults of legal drinking age.

Foods and Nutrients to Increase

  • Individuals should meet the following recommendations as part of a healthy eating pattern while staying within their calorie needs.
  • Increase vegetable and fruit intake.
  • Eat a variety of vegetables, especially dark-green and red and orange vegetables and beans and peas.
  • Consume at least half of all grains as whole grains. Increase whole-grain intake by replacing refined grains with whole grains.
  • Increase intake of fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products, such as milk, yogurt, cheese, or fortified soy beverages.6
  • Choose a variety of protein foods, which include seafood, lean meat and poultry, eggs, beans and peas, soy products, and unsalted nuts and seeds.
  • Increase the amount and variety of seafood consumed by choosing seafood in place of some meat and poultry.
  • Replace protein foods that are higher in solid fats with choices that are lower in solid fats and calories and/or are sources of oils.
  • Use oils to replace solid fats where possible.
  • Choose foods that provide more potassium, dietary fiber, calcium, and vitamin D, which are nutrients of concern in American diets. These foods include vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and milk and milk products.

In my opinion, the 2010 Dietary Guidelines are a vast improvement over the 2005 version, but there continues to be room for improvement. I would like to see:

  • Registered Dietitians more involved with the process.
  • See the guidelines written in a way that address individual behaviors since weight is really a secondary result of primary behaviors.
  • More details and specific instruction so Americans feel more empowered after reading the guidelines


If you would like to read the guidelines in its entirety, the full version (all 112 pages) can be found at www.dietaryguidelines.gov