WASHINGTON — The 2010 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee today released its preliminary recommendations that call for a “flexible approach” in incorporating a wide range of tastes and food preferences as part of a healthy diet. The recommendations, which are expected to form the foundation of the 2010 edition of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans set to be released by the end of the year, will be reviewed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and will be open for public comments until July 15 at www.dietaryguidelines.gov.

While noting the diet recommended in the report “is not a rigid prescription,” the Committee identified four major findings that emerged from its review and articulated steps that may be taken to help Americans adopt health-promoting nutrition and physical activity guidelines. They are:

• Reduce the incidence and prevalence of overweight and obesity of the U.S. population by reducing overall calorie intake and increasing physical activity.
• Shift food intake patterns to a more plant-based diet that emphasizes vegetables, cooked dry beans and peas, fruits, whole grains, nuts, and seeds. In addition, increase the intake of seafood and fat-free and low-fat milk and milk products and consume only moderate amounts of lean meats, poultry, and eggs.
• Significantly reduce intake of foods containing added sugars and solid fats because these dietary components contribute excess calories and few, if any, nutrients. In addition, reduce sodium intake and lower intake of refined grains, especially refined grains that are coupled with added sugar, solid fat, and sodium.
• Meet the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.
Among its topic-specific findings, the Committee recommended a gradual reduction in daily sodium intake to 1,500 mg per day from the 2,300 mg recommended in 2005, as well as limiting dietary cholesterol to less than 300 mg per day (with a further goal of less than 200 mg per day for persons at risk for cardiovascular disease or type 2 diabetes).

To accomplish the goals the Committee strongly recommended the U.S.D.A. and H.H.S. convene appropriate committees, potentially through the Institute of Medicine, to develop strategic plans focusing on the actions needed to successfully implement the recommendations.

“We appreciate the hard work and guidance of the Committee and the expertise of its members,” said Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius in a joint statement. “Their commitment to this endeavor assures the public that their report reflects the most current, comprehensive, evidence-based nutritional science available.”

The Committee held six public meetings during the past two years in helping to develop the Advisory Report. According to the U.S.D.A., the use of webinar technology for the public meetings increased public access and audience participation, resulting in an average meeting attendance of 350 as compared to an average attendance of 140 in 2005.

Once the public comment period closes on July 15, the U.S.D.A. and the H.H.S. will consider these and other comments as they develop the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which are set to be released at the end of 2010.

First published in 1980, the Dietary Guidelines are mandated by Congress to be reviewed, updated and released by the U.S.D.A. and the H.H.S. every five years. The Dietary Guidelines contain the latest, science-based nutritional and dietary guidance for the general public. They are the foundation for federal nutrition education and promotion programs, as well as the basis for the federal food assistance programs.