The Dietary Guidelines for Americans are released every five years
by the USDA. With an ever-increasing public awareness of nutrition,
the new guidelines that came out for the year 2000 address one of
the most important current world-wide health issues: epidemic
occurrences of obesity.
According to a fact sheet released from the
One-third of non-elderly adults
in America are now overweight: Fifty-eight million American
adults ages 20 through 74 are overweight, and the number of
overweight Americans increased from 25 to 33 percent between 1980
- One in five children are at risk of being
overweight: Ten percent of children are overweight or obese.
The number of overweight children has doubled over the past 15
years, and 70 percent of overweight children aged 10 to 13 will be
overweight and obese adults. Most of this increase has taken place
in recent years; 10 percent of children, 4 to 5 years of age, were
overweight in 1988 through 1994, compared with 5.8 percent in 1971
through 1974. Recent studies indicate that this trend is associated
with low levels of physical activity rather than increased food
- Obesity is linked to an increased incidence of chronic
disease: Obesity is a risk factor for diseases such as
coronary heart disease, certain types of cancer, stroke, and
diabetes. Over $68 billion is spent each year on the direct health
care costs related to obesity, representing 6 percent of the
nation's health care expenditures in 1999.
- Almost 90 percent of Americans
have diets that need
improvement: The Healthy
Eating Index shows that 88 percent of Americans have diets that are
poor or need improvement. Only 26 percent
of people meet the daily dietary recommendation for dairy products,
and less than 20 percent meet the daily recommendation for fruits.
In particular, teenagers and people with low incomes tend to have
lower quality diets.
- Many illnesses can be prevented
or mediated through regular physical activity: Regular
physical activity reduces the risk of developing some of the
leading causes of illness and death in the United States, including
heart disease, high blood
pressure, colon cancer, and diabetes. Physical activity has
been demonstrated to reduce blood pressure and symptoms of anxiety
and depression while maintaining healthy
bones, muscles, and joints. More than 60 percent of adults do not engage in the
recommended amount of physical activity, and approximately 25
percent of adults are not physically active at all
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