New USDA Dietary Guidelines Just Out – Michael Pollan Did It First

The 2010 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee spent almost 2 years researching and writing a 453-page document, Report of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010, which was provided to the USDA and to the public as well as food industry for comment in May 2010. The final report – released today – is the basis for an implementation guide, which in the past was the “Food Pyramid.”

The editors of the report say:

The single most sobering aspect of this report is the recognition that we are addressing an overweight and obese American population. Across all age, gender and ethnic groups, it is clear that urgent and systems-wide efforts are needed to address America’s obesity epidemic as top priority.

Well into the document – page 51, actually – is the “call to action.” In other words, these are the things we should do:

  • Reduce the incidence and prevalence of overweight and obesity of the U.S. population by reducing overall calorie intake and increasing physical activity. Translation: Eat less, get more exercise.
  • 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. Translation: Eat more plants, eat less meat and animal fat.
  • 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. Translation: Cut out excess sugar, fat, and salt and eat more whole grain.
  • Meet the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. Translation: Get more exercise. (That one got repeated!)

It took a report the size of a telephone book to say the same thing that Michael Pollan said in seven words in his book, In Defense of Food:

Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.