The latest nutrition guidelines from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of Human Services have a new emphasis: weight control. In previous years, the guidelines focused on nutrients: What proportion of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates is optimal for health? Or, what amounts of different vitamins and minerals do you need to protect yourself from diseases?
The slogan for the new guidelines is: “Calories in, calories out.” Put another way: Americans should strive to maintain a calorie balance, eating no more calories than they burn each day. If you are overweight, the goal is to eat fewer calories than you burn each day to reach a healthy weight. Calorie control and daily physical activity are the cornerstones of the new guidelines.
Why the emphasis on weight control? The Dietary Guidelines report explains it this way: “Poor diet and physical inactivity are the most important factors contributing to an epidemic of overweight and obesity affecting men, women, and children in all segments of our society. Even in the absence of overweight, poor diet and physical inactivity are associated with major causes of morbidity and mortality in the United States.” With this in mind, the Dietary Guidelines include these recommendations for foods to cut back on and foods to increase: