The Dietary Guidelines for Americans have been published jointly by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), every five years since 1980. The Guidelines are intended to provide advice for people aged two years and older about how good dietary habits can promote health and reduce risk of major chronic diseases. The guidelines serve as the basis for federal food and nutrition education programs. The recommendations below are from the 2005 report.
The key recommendations for weight management are:
- “To maintain body weight in a healthy range, balance calories from foods and beverages with calories expended;
- “To prevent gradual weight gain over time, make small decreases in food and beverage calories and increase physical activity.”
This means that the American public health bodies subscribe to the over simplification “energy in equals energy out”, based on the misapplication of thermodynamics that we have already detailed.
The key recommendations for carbohydrates are:
- “Choose fibre-rich fruits, vegetables, and whole grains often;
- “Choose and prepare foods and beverages with little added sugars or caloric sweeteners;
- “Reduce the incidence of dental caries by practicing good oral hygiene and consuming sugar- and starch-containing foods and beverages less frequently.”
I have to make two comments on point (3) before moving on. First, recommendation (1) can be summarised as eat starch often and recommendation (3) says don’t eat starch often. Which is it to be American advisors? Secondly, it is interesting that the only caution made in relation to sugar is that it increases dental caries i.e. it rots your teeth. This is also the only criticism that the UK Food Standards Agency makes about sugar – more on this later.
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