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USDA Dietary Guidelines


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 White House:

  • 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 and 1991.

  • 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 consumption.

  • 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
    : 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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