The latest edition of the U.S. government's Dietary Guidelines for Americans puts "more emphasis than ever" on balancing calorie intake and physical activity to maintain weight and health, says MIT Medical nutritionist Anna Jasonides, R.D., L.D.
Since 1980, the U.S. Departments of Agriculture (USDA) and Health and Human Services (HHS) have jointly issued updated dietary recommendations every five years, based on the latest scientific and medical knowledge. The 2010 edition, released on Jan. 31, 2011, encourages Americans to choose healthier foods in the right portions and to complement those choices with physical activity. For the first time, the document devotes an entire chapter to "Balancing Calories to Manage Weight," a response to the fact that most American adults and one in three children are overweight or obese.
"This report seems more thoughtful and specific than previous editions," Jasonides says. "It's saying, 'Hey, Americans, wake up! We need to eat fewer calories, and we have to figure out how much we need to eat.' People don't realize how few calories they actually need."