The new Dietary Guidelines for Americans are here! Every five years, the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services update the Dietary Guidelines, guidance that focuses on nationwide health promotion and disease risk reduction based on current nutritional science. Not surprisingly, the latest guidelines focus on trimming waistlines though physical activity and proper nutrition, including increasing consumption of nutrient-dense foods, such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. The guidelines form the basis for federal nutrition policy, but also provide specific messages to improve consumer health.
One of these consumer messages, and in my opinion the most effective message, is to make half your plate fruits and vegetables. The most recent data reveals that 72% of men, 64% of women, and 32% of those younger than age 20 in the United States are overweight or obese.1,2 The obesity epidemic is driven by many factors, including excessive consumption of processed and convenience foods. Half a plate of filling, nutrient dense produce is easy to visualize and easy to attain, and likely swaps out calorie-dense foods for better nutrition. So don’t wait, start your very next meal with a pear!1 Flegal KM, Carroll MD, Ogden CL, Curtin LR. Prevalence and trends in obesity among U.S. adults, 1999-2008. JAMA. 2010;303(3):235-241.
2 Ogden CL, Carroll MD, Curtin LR, Lamb MM, Flegal KM. Prevalence of high body mass index in U.S. children and adolescents, 2007-2008. JAMA. 2010;303(3):242-249.
illustration credit: Produce for Better Health Foundation