January 07, 2016
2 min read

Updated Dietary Guidelines set limit on added sugars, promote lifetime healthy eating patterns

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The 8th edition of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans was released today from HHS and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and it is the first edition of the guidelines to set measurable limits on how much added sugar Americans should consume.

The recommendations include limiting added sugars to 10% of daily calorie intake. This limit does not include sugars that occur naturally in milk and fruits.  

"Protecting the health of the American public includes empowering them with the tools they need to make healthy choices in their daily lives. By focusing on small shifts in what we eat and drink, eating healthy becomes more manageable. The Dietary Guidelines provide science-based recommendations on food and nutrition so people can make decisions that may help keep their weight under control, and prevent chronic conditions, like type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease,” Sylvia M. Burwell, HHS Secretary, said in a press release.

The updated guidelines also focus on healthy eating as a whole, rather than focusing on nutrients and foods individually. The recommendations include eating a variety of nutrient-dense foods over an individual’s lifetime: Dark green, red and orange vegetables, legumes and starchy vegetables, whole fruits, whole grains, low- or fat-free milk, yogurt, cheese and fortified soy drinks are emphasized for dietary inclusion. In addition, protein-rich foods such as seafood, lean meats and poultry, eggs, soy, nuts and seeds, as well as plant-based oils, are recommended as part of an overall health diet.

Additionally, the guidelines recommend that sodium intake should be less than 2,300 mgs per day for those aged 14 years and older, and even less for children and adolescents younger 14 years of age. Recommended limits on daily dietary cholesterol intake, which had been present in previous versions of the guidelines, were removed altogether in the 8th edition.

“Obesity rates and related health problems have risen dramatically in recent decades. Very recently there have been indications from the CDC that the growth in obesity is leveling off, but there is still a lot of work to be done to help Americans return to healthier body weight to reduce heart disease and other related health issues. Following the recommendations in the 2015 Guideline to lower intake of cholesterol, fat and sugar, will help improve the health of the American population,” Kim Allan Williams, MD, FACC, American College of Cardiology President, said in a press release.

In a related editorial released in JAMA, Karen B. DeSalvo, MD, MPH, MSc, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health, HHS and colleagues noted that health care professionals, communities, businesses and industries, organizations, governments and other segments of society play a vital part in supporting health eating patterns and physical activity goals.

“Health care professionals can help individuals identify how they can modify and improve their dietary patterns and intake to align with the Dietary Guidelines. Educational materials for both professionals and consumers will be available in 2016,” DeSalvo and colleagues concluded. – by Casey Hower