Washington, D.C., January 7, 2016 – American Heart Association President Mark Creager, M.D., issued the following comments today on the release of the final federal dietary guidelines by the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Agriculture (USDA):
“The new federal dietary guidelines give Americans the flexibility they want in their diets without sacrificing their health. By providing a valuable source of nutrition information, the standards continue to help build a ‘culture of health’ that will reduce our risk for heart disease and stroke. We commend HHS and USDA for their transparent approach in developing these guidelines and for incorporating the science-based nutrition recommendations made by the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee.
These new guidelines will help us examine our diets in a more comprehensive fashion, instead of spending time weighing the pros and cons of every single food we eat. This ‘bigger picture’ view of our daily food consumption encourages more personal choice. Each American can use these standards to tailor daily meals and meet individual needs to stay healthy.
In many ways the guidelines aren’t dramatically different from their 2010 predecessors – they continue to recommend more vegetables, fruits and whole grains, and less sugar, sodium and saturated fat. However, they do propose a new goal for added sugars. For the first time, the guidelines include a definitive amount for the consumption of added sugars, a major source of the excess calories that can lead to higher body weight. By recommending less than 10 percent of calories per day from added sugars, the guidelines give Americans clear direction on how much sugar they can consume and still keep their weight and health in check.
Our association was also pleased that the guidelines continue to reinforce the need for Americans to reduce sodium and saturated fat in their diets. Although our association believes the ultimate goal should be lower than the USDA recommendation of less than 2,300mg per day of sodium, this new target will help steer more Americans away from salty foods, and the risk of developing high blood pressure linked to excess salt intake. Additionally, eating less saturated fat will improve overall cardiovascular health and reduce the risk of heart disease and death.
In order to support these new science-based guidelines, the American Heart Association urges our nation’s political leaders to pursue broader policy changes such as improved nutrition labels; production of healthy foods with less salt, sugar and fat; and to continue consumer education. A more comprehensive approach will go a long way in helping Americans adhere to these guidelines and stay on a path to better health.”
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