New Dietary Guidelines Urge Less Sugar for All and Less Meat for Boys and Men

nyt_branded_product_size2By Anahad O’Connor, The New York Times

New federal dietary guidelines announced on Thursday urge Americans to drastically cut back on sugar, and for the first time have singled out teenage boys and men for eating too much meat.

Despite those warnings, the guidelines were also notable for what they did not say. While draft recommendations had suggested all Americans adopt more environmentally-sustainable eating habits by cutting back on meat, that advice was dropped from the final guidelines. And longstanding limits on dietary cholesterol were also removed, a victory for the nation’s egg producers, which have long argued that cholesterol from eggs and seafood is not a major health concern.

The dietary guidelines, issued by the Agriculture and Health and Human Services Departments, are updated every five years and were first issued in 1980. Typically, they have encouraged Americans to consume fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meat, and low-fat foods, while restricting intake of saturated fat and dietary cholesterol. Though many individual consumers may not give the guidelines much thought, the recommendations have the potential to influence the diets of millions of Americans. The guidelines affect the foods chosen for the school lunch program, which feeds more than 30 million children each school day, and help shape national food assistance programs like the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, which has eight million beneficiaries.

Another advocacy group, the Nutrition Coalition, said that other than the new cap on added sugar, the guidelines mostly continued old advice to eat more whole grains, produce and vegetable oils while cutting back on saturated fat from foods like butter, whole milk and red meat.

These dietary guidelines are virtually identical to those of the past 35 years, during which time obesity and diabetes have skyrocketed, said Nina Teicholz, a spokeswoman for the group. Given the same advice, it’s not clear why we should expect different outcomes.

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