June 15th, 2010
10:07 AM ET

Report: Reduce salt, fat in U.S. dietary guidelines

By John Bonifield
CNN Medical Producer

An advisory committee on U.S. dietary guidelines is urging the government to decrease the recommended daily amount of saturated fat in American's diets from 10 percent  to 7 percent of total calories consumed. The panel's report also recommends that  Americans decrease the amount of daily sodium in their diets from 2,300 milligrams to less than 1,500 milligrams and calls for drinking fewer sugar-sweetened beverages.

"It's sort of a gradual approach to decrease the caloric intake of the American public," says Penelope Slade-Sawyer, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health Diseases Prevention and Health Promotion at the Department of Health and Human Services.

The government advisory panel of 13 experts in nutrition and health met six times over a 20-month period to develop its recommendations. The Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services are reviewing the report.

"This report is a crucial step in the development of the dietary guidelines for Americans," says Robert Post, Deputy Director of the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion at the Department of Agriculture.

The government is expected to issue new dietary guidelines later this year.

Slade-Sawyer notes childhood obesity has tripled in the past 30 years, and today's report, she says, is unprecedented in addressing the obesity epidemic.

"The committee stated that the obesity epidemic is the single greatest threat to public health in this century. Every section of this report was developed in a way that addresses the challenges of obesity," she says.

Filed under: Healthy Eating

soundoff (157 Responses)
  1. Dave, RN

    I can't wait for the new dietary guidlines to come out so I can NOT follow them. I don't think the government will ever learn, or at least admit, that saturated fat has absolutly nothing to do with obesity, or heart disease for that matter.
    As an RN trained in "conventional medical wisdom" I bought into the whole low-fat garbage for a while too. Then 5 years ago I started developing blood suager issues. After following the ADA's dietary advice (a guarentee you'll end up diabetic) I realized that "conventional wisdom" had it all wrong. I stopped eating all processed foods and started buying grassfed meats. I also gave up those "hearthealthywholegrains" and greatly increased my intake of fat. I dropped 30 lbs, normalized my blood pressure and my oral glucose tolerance test dropped from 198 to 100 in just 4 months. If I'd have listened to the ADA, I'd be a full blown diabetic my now.
    They do have it right on sugary drinks though. But the answer is not to start consuming diet stuff. Just drink water or tea. And salt has a very minimal effect on blood pressure. The answer there is sugar as well.
    Links tointeresting stufff on diet: bit.ly/big_fat_lie_cXve1p
    bit.ly/FatHead_clip_bt9ViU and http://bit.ly/salttaubesatjUOa
    Here's where the ADA gets thier money. No wonder their dietary advice is so bad: bit.ly/2008_diabetes_pharma9UAqZl

    June 15, 2010 at 14:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Dave, RN

    Sorry about those links. I'll try again:

    June 15, 2010 at 14:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Dave, RN

    just read your comment. All I've got to say is go read Gary Taubes "Good Calories, Bad Calories" (bad title, great book).
    Most RD's are firmly wedded to the governments food recomendations, and I can't say I blame you, it's what you're taught. It's what I was taught too. I didn't know any different either until I did my own research.
    It takes the medical establishment a long time to admit mistakes. Remember the Semmelweis reflex from school, where the physicains in Veinna refused to believe that they were at fault for the maternaty death rate? That's what's at work here.

    June 15, 2010 at 14:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Dan

    Here is my interpretation and response to Raquel, our R.D. savior:

    1.)"As an RD, and a generally educated and conscientious person"
    I'm smarter than you. I have a 4 year degree, which makes my advice flawless.

    2.) "Without the Guidelines, there would be no central, authoritative and comprehensive source of nutrition science."
    I like the capital G on Guidelines. Sorry to inform you, these guidelines have been in place since the 1970's, and since then, Americans have enjoyed years of hunger, obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. Maybe we're just too lazy.

    3.) "And yes, they are completely based on peer-reviewed published science. Has anyone bothered to actually investigate the process of how they are developed?"
    Yes, we have. And study after study shows fat intake has NOTHING to do with overall health. In fact, I remember reading a study on this very website several months ago which showed the MORE fat we ate, the HEALTHIER we are. Believe it or not, people who aren't Registered Dietitians can also be literate.

    4.)"Take no personal responsibility for your health, scoff at the government, and simply complain about "big brother" telling you what to do."
    People have zero willpower or desire to become healthier, apparently. In fact, I don't recall anyone in my life EVER trying to diet. Wait, scratch that. A huge percentage of people who are overweight are fighting and scraping every day to lose weight. And who do they go to? Registered Dietitians! Low fat! Exercise! And miracles will happen! They usually stick to the diet for 2 months, become miserable, hungry, and see minimal weight loss. They become depressed, quit the diet in frustration, and then read posts from people like you who claim these people are stupid, don't care about their health, and lack willpower.

    June 15, 2010 at 14:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. J.M. Pelland

    Until the FDA further regulates the levels of sugar and sodium in prepared foods, we're not going to make any headway. You can change the recommendations all you want, adjust the food pyramid and daily intakes for all people care, but the big problem is that people still (surprisingly) aren't aware of the contents of their food. People know a fast food burger is bad for them, but they don't realize HOW bad. I don't know a single person who flips over a product in the freezer isle and reads the ingredients. In fact, if they did, they'd probably be surprised to find they have no idea what half the ingredients are!

    June 15, 2010 at 14:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. jupitermd

    Those are the most basic steps to staying fit. How does it take a panel of experts in nutrion to come up with these guidlines.

    June 15, 2010 at 14:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. BuffaloBilly

    It's easy for the federal government and state governments to improve the health of this country. Do not allow "food stamps", vouchers or debit cards issued to people for free, to be allowed for purchasing any drinks, junk foods, snacks or processed foods high in salt or sugar. Instantly half the obesity will stop, along with many major health problems.

    June 15, 2010 at 14:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Leah (TXanimal)

    What a joke. The USDA can issue all the guidelines they want, but it's not going to make lazy Americans change their eating habits, and it's certainly not going to hold a candle to the bazillion-dollar advertising budgets of the fast food industry.

    On a side note: look at the increase in the number of ads for gyms, exercise equipment, "light" foods, "healthy" fast food snacks and other healthy-living products over the past, say 10 years. Now look at the increase in the number of obese adults and children in the U.S over the same amount of time. Obviously, the problem runs much deeper than whether or not the USDA's food guidelines are "correct".

    June 15, 2010 at 16:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Kathy

    I have had to completely change my diet due to high blood pressure and in the last three months I have already lost over 30 pounds and seen my BP drop @40 points. I have totally eliminated fast food (eating out of any kind actually), most meats, caffeine (including sodas), candy, etc. I also exercise for about an hour five days a week. I was a chocoholic and a food nut but it was making me sick so after winding up in the ER I made the decision to change my way of eating. If you want to gorge yourself on salty fattening foods and land up paralyzed by your own body fat, suffering from a range of diseases from diabetes to cardiac trouble, then go ahead but don't stop me from taking care of my health so I won't end up a burden on my family and on the health care industry.

    June 15, 2010 at 16:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. kevin

    Not that people will generally follow these recommendations but hopefully restaurants, fast food places and food manufacturers will provide healthier foods.

    We still don't have restaurants and fast food places that make reasonable portion sizes with broad nutritional value. They keep giving people what tastes good but then people eventually turn away either because of health problems or death.

    Does it really make sense to base a business model on food products that can only be recommended as a once-a-month treat? To me you want to have your food so healthy and inexpensive that your customers can come to you every meal of the day. Hopefully more food establishments will become smarter.

    June 15, 2010 at 17:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. M.H. Foley

    People need to stop with the idea that "everyone who is obese, must be so because they stuff their faces with fat, salt and calorie laden foods. Personally, I watch what I eat (and have done so for many, many years), exercise 4-5 days a week and am still obese, by society standards. Not everyone was meant to be rail thin. Believe me, there are TONS of skinny people out there who are one step away from a heart attack and/or stroke. I am a healthy fat person and proud of it!
    People need to mind their own business!

    June 15, 2010 at 17:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. nerdindenial

    Try eating the following diet (sized for a man wanting to get down to 210 pounds) and you will lose the fat rapidly and be very healthy. If your healthy goal weight is less than this, reduce portions accordingly. Remember, no bread, sugar, flour, chocolate, candy, or alcohol. Drink lots of water. 1 Whey protein shake can be used per day. Buy a food scale at Target to weigh the food. Take a sack lunch to work.

    PROTEIN: 8 OZ YOGURT OR MILK. (non-fat or 1%), OR 2 EGGS

    8 OZ FRUIT
    0.5 OZ OF FAT. – butter, or OLIVE OIL

    8 OZ FRUIT.

    June 15, 2010 at 19:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. fay

    All white foods should be consumed in moderation: salt, sugar, white flour, rice, and potatoes. Especially at the beginning of a healthy diet program, it's best to use no salt at all, and just watch the pounds come off. There's enough salt in many vegetables to make them appetizing without adding more salt. Fifteen hundred mgs. is still too high a daily dosage, and I disagree with anyone who says it's hard to follow a low salt diet. It IS hard when you eat out a lot, but even at McDonalds they'll make fresh french fries for you, if you ask for them without salt. All the restaurants you frequent often should be encouraged to offer low salt alternatives to their regular menu, or hold the salt on normal menu items. After all, other customers can always use the salt shaker. Save your life; drop the "whites" as much as possible..

    June 15, 2010 at 20:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Geoff King

    As any number of people who have studied the issue of the American diet have asked over the last two decades: Why does the USDA instruct us as to what we should eat? Why the now-discredited food pyramid come from the USDA?

    We have a Health Dept, yes? And to think that there is not, and never has been, any conflict of interest within the USDA is to be seriously vulnverable to nonsense.

    June 15, 2010 at 20:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Bonnie

    Salt and fat will be limited in the American diet because salt and fat do not have extremely well-financed lobbies. Not only does the sugar lobby have one of the most powerful arm-bending forces in the halls of Congress, but the federal government pays companies to grow sugar cane and sugar beets. Then, they pay companies to put sugar in processed foods and as many foods as possible, thus doing the will of the all-powerful sugar lobby. If we did only ONE thing to help Americans lose weight, it should be to remove ALL sugar from the American diet. And when I say sugar, I mean sugar in all its various forms. We now have several artificial sweeteners that have been around for decades, and now we have a legal no-calorie herbal sweetener that is not artificial and that can REPLACE the sugars that are presently killing Americans. All it takes is for experts like Dr. Gupta to say the words that most American need to hear.

    June 15, 2010 at 20:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Jim

    I am a registered polysomnographer, overseeing various sleep studies in a hospital setting. Our patients are for the most part obese, and often uninsured. They have a littany of health problems that the hospital eats the bill on daily, yet they are the first to look for pity, and complain about the government. The vast majority could lose weight naturally, yet will opt for surgery. Most list foods heavy in white flour and sugars of various types. Cutting these ingredients alone can result in weight loss. This is from personal experience, as well as observation. Thank you.

    June 15, 2010 at 20:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. S

    @ iListen– sodium is a mineral necessary for life. Not too sure it's a toxic metal!

    Curious how they think Americans will cut down to 1500mg sodium when we can't even approach the 2300mg mark. Restaurants will go out of business if they stop using salt because no one will go- the palate needs to be retrained and that will take a long time! I know French-trained chefs who are quite liberal with the salt-but they don't eat the portions we do over in Europe!! Look at what Mickey D's used to consider a "serving" when they opened in the 1950's- their children's portions are now larger than that. Americans have become too accustomed to the "bigger is better" mentality,

    June 15, 2010 at 22:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Sarah

    When you've got people like the woman actively trying to become the fattest woman, you know there's major problems with our country. Yes, it is my business if you have a lard-butt, it affects my health care costs. I work in a hospital, and it's normal now to see patients who are 250 lbs. and over. Eating healthy isn't really that expensive if you aren't spending $50 going out to eat, but buy fruits and veggies instead. If you don't eat a lot of sugar, those fruits and veggies taste really good and the fruits are sweet enough to be dessert. If you eat lean protein, veggies with fiber, and whole-grain carbs, you get full with less food and stay full longer. With a little effort, they taste really good. Yes, it takes some time, but it's worth it. I have a full time job and 2 children and can manage it. Just put down the cheesy poofs and get off the couch for an hour, and you can do it. After you eat healthy for a while, not only will you like it, but will find that fast-food tastes bad and will make your stomach hurt from the fat and grease content. As for the people who say food is like a drug and makes them feel good, try exercising. It makes me feel good inside and out, and then I can eat enough of the healthy stuff to fill me up because I'm burning the calories when I exercise. Take some control and responsibility for yourself, people.

    June 15, 2010 at 23:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Jeremy

    Let's just give people tax breaks for staying fit.

    June 16, 2010 at 02:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Just Sayin'

    If people want to eat themselves to death then let them do it. BUT the people who have healthy lifestyles should get discounts on their health insurance premiums. Let the people who dont' take care of themselves pay more since they are the ones who will have the strokes, heart disease and diabetes the most. Why should we pay for their stupid choices?

    June 16, 2010 at 09:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. DC Dunne

    The whinning...make it stop! Of course we know what healthy eating looks like. Some choose to eat healthy and some don't. We are a fat nation and getting fatter by the year. McDonald's didn't force that Big Mac down your gullet. Eat better, feel better, live longer. It's a personal choice.

    June 16, 2010 at 09:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. DC Dunne

    ...and yes, I do understand that some people who eat well and exercise regularly are still "overweight" by BMI standards. BMI is not a good measure of health/body type. But, let's understand that people in that category are the few, not the many. Let's not use the few as an excuse for the many to remain overweight. Check out your local supermarket and walk off how many running feet they devote to frozen pizza alone! This "exercise" illustrates how too many Americans eat.

    June 16, 2010 at 09:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. JennyGetsFit

    Why does it always have to either/or?

    It is both – a personal responsibility( to take care of yourself) AND a government responsibility (to govern all the agencies in charge of how food is produced and distributed)!
    By separating these two we INSURE that nothing gets done for a long time!

    June 16, 2010 at 10:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. mom

    I would just be happy if the school lunch programs followed the pyramid like they were meant too. No more fast food for lunch people! What would your mom, your grandmom say to you if they knew what many of you considered good food? How many of you adults set bad examples for your kids by buying lunch every single day at work instead of brown bagging it.?

    The food pyramid is not a new concept at all. I don't know why there has to be so many complaints. So they changed it. As many have noted it is a guideline and that is all. Which is the problem!

    There are plenty of programs that people use every day that can follow these guidelines to at least limit access to bad foods. IF the Food Stamp and School lunch programs (for instance) would only allow appropriate foods to be served or purchased, it would make some small progress.

    As a caseworker with the Dept of Welfare in my state, I can tell you that you can buy soda, ground coffee, pizza, chips, candy.. etc with food stamps.... Well what if they simply said no more? They can block some items from being sold. If someone wants it bad enough let them pay cash.

    Many school districts receive state and federal funding for school lunch programs. What on earth are fast food companies (aka Dominos to name one) doing selling lunch to our kids? Sure they probably do it cheap which helps, but seriously.. Why does this continue to happen?

    Push for the government to back up its research. You want to see less obese people in this county something has to be done. Limiting access to unhealthy food products to our children and those that can't afford to buy much without assistance is for their own good. This isn't a matter of free speech or free will or whatever .. its just good sense.

    I am sure many of us would agree that our mothers said NO quite a lot when it came to what we wanted to put in the cart at the grocery store. Someone has to stand up to people and remind them of what is best for them. Its certainly not eating take out everyday!

    When it comes to nutrition and money, our kids should come first. Not our wallets.

    June 17, 2010 at 00:02 | Report abuse | Reply
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