New U.S. dietary guidelines: Will they work for you?

The U.S. has just unveiled the latest updates to their dietary guide, but will it be enough to combat the growing obesity epidemic?

Obesity, diabetes, and a wide range of dietary health issues affect a large percentage of the United States population, and doctors and scientists alike have consistently pointed the blame at a diet high in fats and sugars as the leading cause. According to a New York Times report, the U.S. Agriculture and Health and human Services Departments have released an updated set of dietary guidelines.

The new guidelines improve upon some of the advice that health officials have been giving the public for years. For example, the guidelines reinforce the idea that healthy eating habits should extend throughout a person’s entire life, and not just at crucial stages of development.

The guidelines maintain that certain foods high in fats like nuts and avocados, foods high in cholesterol like eggs and shellfish, or coffee and alcohol are okay to enjoy in moderation. The guidelines continue to discourage the consumption of processed foods that contain high levels of added sugar.

As you might have expected, the guidelines also call for a wide range of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and high-protein and low-fat foods like dairy, poultry, beans, and seeds.

As with previous iterations of the dietary guidelines, however, suspicions have arisen about sections on certain food products that have been shown to be unhealthy, yet are still produced in massive quantities and sold across the country. The biggest example is red meat.

Most red meat products sold in the U.S. have a high level of sodium and are full of saturated fats. While the new dietary guidelines urge people to avoid these two components due to the risk of cancer and heart disease, they contain no language warning that red meat increases the risks of these outcomes.

While the guidelines come down hard on added sugars and appear to give red meat a free pass, they still contain some useful information about which foods should be avoided and which should be enjoyed in moderation. Whether or not people will follow the guidelines, however, is an entirely different question.

A press release from the Agriculture and Health and Human Services Departments regarding the recent guideline changes can be found here.

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