New nutritional guidelines urge healthier eating habits, more physical activity

Feb. 8, 2011 at midnight
Updated Feb. 7, 2011 at 8:08 p.m.

Enjoy food, but eat less of it. Keep away from oversized portions. Drink more water.

These are among the tips included in the federal government's 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, released in late January.

The updates - the seventh edition of dietary guidelines released - come mainly because more than one-third of children and more than two-thirds of adults in the United States are overweight, according to a United States Department of Agriculture news release. They place more emphasis on reducing calories and upping physical activity.

We can no longer ignore the health concerns that continue to increase nationwide, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in the news release.

"These new and improved dietary recommendations give individuals the information to make thoughtful choices of healthier foods in the right portions and to complement those choices with physical activity," he said.

The main message, he said, is that most people in the United States should trim their waistlines to reduce the risk of developing certain chronic diseases.

"Improving our eating habits is not only good for every individual and family," he said, "but also for our country."

The changes are basically more thorough versions of things already taught through area 4-H programs, said Sarah Brandes, county extension agent for 4-H and youth development.

"It's just a little more in-depth," she said.

The updates will gradually work themselves into educational programs, Brandes said, likely during the fall, when 4-H's food and nutrition contest season begins.

It's important to recognize the new guidelines, she said, especially if it means helping to keep future generations healthy.

"Some diseases that were relevant to adult populations in the past, now affect children," Brandes said. "This is just going to make all of us healthier. That's definitely our goal."



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