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Dietary Guidelines Come Into Focus

BY: Kelly Hensel
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In January 2011, the U.S. government released the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The Guidelines set a high standard designed to reduce overall caloric intake, eat more nutrient-dense foods, and increase physical activity to help reduce the incidence and prevalence of obesity in the U.S. population. The guidelines pose both challenges and opportunities for the food science industry. Sessions that highlight the Dietary Guidelines and how the food industry can meet them include:

  • New Dietary Guidelines: Improving food labels with fats and oils (Session 74): This session will focus on the 2010 Dietary Guidelines’ approach to fat in the diet. The Guidelines have shifted the story around fat from avoiding it to including healthful fats as a significant part of a quality diet. Speakers in this panel discussion provide the scientific basis for the current guidelines for fat. The speakers address the translation of these guidelines to an appropriate diet for Americans. There is confusion on the guidelines around fat and how to incorporate healthy fats in a diet pattern. How can products be developed that meet the needs of consumers without sacrificing taste? Speakers will address how these guidelines can be used to address the demand for healthier products by combining taste and health. The discussion will include case studies that demonstrate the ways health and taste can be a part of the same food product.
  • Changing the food environment: What are we doing to implement the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans? (Session 117): The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans have received considerable public attention—more than any other dietary guidelines in the past 30 years. The imperative of improving public health has never been stronger, and the need for food scientists and nutritionists to join forces to combat obesity and other chronic diseases has never been more critical. Processors, advertisers, communicators, and policymakers are dedicated to significantly changing the public health landscape and helping consumers make healthier choices. The panelists describe the initiatives of their organizations to change the food environment and improve consumer adherence to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines.
  • Translating the Dietary Guidelines for Americans to bring about real behavioral changes (Session 137): After 25 years of dietary guidance, now more than ever food and nutrition scientists are looking for ways to bring meaningful change to the American diet. While the simplest solution appears to be a back-to-basics approach, the realities of modern life and the current food supply make the answer more complex. It is well-known that dietary guidance exists to optimize consumption of targeted nutrients or foods, but consumer adoption of existing guidance is low. This session involves a discussion on new consumer insights on dietary guidance along with realistic recommendations based on modern food production. Are food science professionals doing enough to help Americans?
  • Is there still a place on the table for refined grains after the 2010 Dietary Guidelines advisory committee report? Rice as a case study (Session 256): The 2010 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee Report places refined grains in the same category as added sugars and saturated fat. This categorization leads to questioning the role refined grains should play in U.S. diets. Moreover, the simplified categorization places all refined grains in the same category, ignoring the fact that not all refined grains result in the same physiological responses. This session explains the rationale for this categorization and what implications it holds for consumers and food manufacturers.
  • 2010 Dietary Guidelines recommendations on saturated fat: A case for balanced fatty acid intake including saturated fats (Session 272): There continues to be substantial pressure from many health and nutrition leaders to reduce saturated fat to as low as 5% even though the evidence of population-based benefit is less clear. A change in the consumption pattern of a class of fatty acids can have unexpected and unintended consequences on human health. This symposium evaluates the implications of nutrition guidance to reduce saturated fat intake and reviews the evidence for a how a balanced intake of fatty acids could be critical for optimal human health. Also, the session covers potential health effects from changes in fatty acid consumption and the practical considerations for food companies as they manage the formulation and labeling of foods.

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