Date Published: 8 January 2016

AMA endorses 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines

The American Medical Association (AMA) has welcomed the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines, a report detailing the latest healthy eating advice for Americans. Described on health.gov1 as "an essential resource for health professionals and policymakers", the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines provide information about how to choose a good diet and so help to reduce the risk of various serious diet-related chronic diseases. These guidelines are based on current scientific understanding and informed by the recommendations of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, which includes leading scientists working in research in the fields of nutrition, health, and medicine.

The following 5 points summarizing the guidelines appears, with further details and explanations, on health.gov1:

  1. Follow a healthy eating pattern across the lifespan.
  2. Focus on variety, nutrient density, and amount.
  3. Limit calories from added sugars and saturated fats and reduce sodium intake.
  4. Shift to healthier food and beverage choices.
  5. Support healthy eating patterns for all.

Key recommendations in the report include advice to adhere to a healthy eating regime in which foods and drinks are consumed in appropriate quantities. It describes a 'healthy eating pattern' in the following very general terms:

A healthy eating pattern includes:

  • A variety of vegetables from all of the sub-groups, such as dark green, red and orange, legumes (beans and peas), starchy, and other
  • Fruits, especially whole fruits
  • Grains, at least half of which are whole grains
  • Fat-free or low-fat dairy, including milk, yogurt, cheese, and/or fortified soy beverages
  • A variety of protein foods, including seafood, lean meats and poultry, eggs, legumes (beans and peas), and nuts, seeds, and soy products
  • Oils

A healthy eating pattern limits:

  • Saturated fats and trans fats, added sugars, and sodium

The report also contains quantitative advice about consumption of added sugars, saturated fats, salt (sodium) and alcohol. It advises people to :

  • Consume less than 10% of daily calories from added sugars
  • Consume less than 10% of daily calories from saturated fats
  • Consume less than 2,300 milligrams (mg) per day of sodium - which is also commonly referred to as simply 'salt'
  • If alcohol is consumed, do so only only in moderation:
    Up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men (applies only to adults of legal drinking age).

In a statement on the AMA website2, its president, Steven J. Stack, M.D., expressed optimism that the recommendations in this recent report will assist more Americans to improve their diets and lead healthier lives. The same statement goes on to endorse certain other views expressed in the report, particularly its recommendation that both adults and children in the United States should "focus on achieving a healthy overall diet rather than focus on consuming only specific nutrients".

The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines also acknowledge and include suggestions about how to approach certain environmental and societal issues which, it is thought, might impede some people from implementing the recommended dietary guidelines in their day-to-day lives.

Summarizing some of the key issues mentioned in the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines, the AMA's statement concluded:

" With obesity and its associated health consequences - namely type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease - on the rise throughout our country, the AMA also is extremely pleased that the new recommendations call for significantly reducing the amount of added sugars and sugar sweetened beverages from the American diet. The AMA has been working hard over the last two years to prevent the incidence of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, both of which are linked to excessive sugar consumption, and we will continue to support efforts aimed at improving the health of the nation.
_ We encourage the Committee to continue to push for the policies and environmental and system changes needed to help make healthy foods and beverages more accessible and affordable to all Americans
."

Steven J. Stack, M.D., President of the AMA

Sources include:

1 2015-20 dietary guidelines at health.gov (http://1.usa.gov/1PbIVt7)

2 statement dated 7 Jan 2016 on ama-assn.org

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