This morning I put on my best Veronica Corningstone and made an appearance on News Nation on MSNBC. They called me yesterday and asked if I could make a comment on the new USDA Dietary Guidelines that were to be announced this morning. I jumped at the opportunity, and was looking forward to skewering the government for putting the US Dept of Agriculture (industry lobbyists) in charge of our dietary guidelines instead of the more appropriate FDA or HHS (public health advocates).
Imagine my surprise when I woke up this morning to find the new guidelines are a huge improvement over the last set issued in 2005. I cheerily sent MSNBC my revised talking points and headed down to the studio.
I guess they didn't get the message, however, because the segment was focused almost entirely on salt reduction--something I don't find particularly interesting. Needless to say I was not prepared to answer why the FDA singled out African-Americans to reduce salt intake. I apologize for my bumbling non-answer.
The show was still fun though. My favorite part being when anchor Tamron Hall exclaimed, "I don't remember the last time I ate a vegetable!"
Since I didn't get to make my points on air, I've included my thoughts on the new guidelines below. As noted above, I'm most impressed that the guidelines for the first time emphasize health over lobbying efforts. We still haven't seen the revised Food Pyramid (coming in a couple months), but this is certainly a step in the right direction.
Highlights from the USDA Dietary Guidelines 2010
- For the first time they prominently focus on the obesity epidemic and the population's need to lose weight. Emphasis on EATING LESS unhealthy foods.
- Eat less: "solid fats" aka saturated and trans fats, sugar, salt and refined grains. This is unfortunately a little cryptic.
- Translation: Eat less junk and processed foods
- Drink water instead of sugary drinks. Yes!
- Eat more nutrient dense foods: vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lowfat dairy, seafood, lean meats/poultry, beans, nuts & seeds. Agreed! Though I consider dairy optional.
- I'm happy they emphasized eating more whole foods, not just nutrients.
- "Half your plate should be vegetables." Woohoo!
- Good emphasis on replacing less healthy choices with healthier ones (e.g "solid fats" with healthy oils, refined grains with whole grains, meat with seafood)
- Emphasis on physical activity is good, though this has very little impact on energy balance since even strenuous exercise burns relatively few calories.
- Generally a huge improvement, now the challenge is to make the message clear to the public.
The entire segment is in the video above. Can you tell I tried to dress like a grown up?