The Dietary Guidelines for Americans

Aim for Fitness

Aim for a healthy weight Be physically active each day

Build a Healthy Base

Let the Pyramid guide your food choices

Choose a variety of grains daily, especially whole grains

Choose a variety of fruits and vegetables daily

Keep food safe to eat

Choose Sensibly

Choose a diet that is low in fat and cholesterol and moderate in fat

Choose beverages and foods to moderate your intake of sugar

Choose and prepare foods with less salt

If you drink alcoholic beverages, do so in moderation salt, and sugar. There was heated debate among nutrition scientists when the Dietary Goals were published. Some nutritionists believed that not enough was known about effects of diet and health to make suggestions as specific as those given.

In 1980, the first edition of Dietary Guidelines for Americans was released by the USDA and HHS. The seven guidelines were: (1) Eat a variety of foods; (2) Maintain ideal weight; (3) Avoid too much fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol; (4) Eat foods with adequate starch and fiber; (5) Avoid too much sugar; (6) Avoid too much sodium; and (7) If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation. The second edition, released in 1985, made a few changes, but kept most of the guidelines intact. Two exceptions were the weight guideline, which was changed to "Maintain desirable weight" and the last guideline, in which "alcohol" was changed to "alcoholic beverages."

Following publication of the second edition of the Dietary Guidelines, two influential reports concerning diet and health were issued. The Surgeon General's Report on Nutrition and Health was published in 1988, and the National Research Council's report Diet and Health—Implications for Reducing Chronic Disease Risk was published in 1989. These two reports supported the goal of the Dietary Guidelines to promote eating habits that can help people stay healthy. In 1990, the third edition of the guidelines took a more positive tone than previous editions, using phrases such as "Choose a diet... " or "Use ... only in moderation," rather than "Avoid too much..." This was seen as a positive step by many nutrition educators.

The fourth edition was the first to include the Food Guide Pyramid, which had been introduced in 1992. It also was the first edition to address vegetarian diets and the recently introduced "Nutrition Facts" panel for food labels. The fifth edition, issued in 2000, expanded the number of guidelines to ten and organized them into three messages: "Aim for Fitness, Build a Healthy Base, and Choose Sensibly" (ABC).

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans have evolved since they were first published in 1980. Their recommendations represent the latest research in diet and health promotion, and, as new research emerges, the guidelines will continue to change to reflect new insights into diet and health. People can take steps toward healthier lifestyles by following the recommendations of the Dietary Guidelines and using tools like the Food Guide Pyramid to guide their food choices. see also Dietary Trends, American; Food Guide Pyramid.

Linda Benjamin Bobroff

Bibliography

Cronin, Frances J., and Shaw, Anne M. (1988). "Summary of Dietary Recommendations for Healthy Americans." Nutrition Today 23:26-34.

National Research Council (1989). Diet and Health: Implications for Reducing Chronic Disease Risk. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.

  1. S. Department of Agriculture, and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (1980). Nutrition and Your Health: Dietary Guidelines for Americans. (Home and Garden Bulletin 232.) Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.
  2. S. Department of Agriculture, and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2000). Nutrition and Your Health: Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 5th ed. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office.
  3. S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service (1988). The Surgeon General's Report on Nutrition and Health. (DHHS [PHS] Publication No. 88-50210.) Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.
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