Health Agencies Issue New Dietary Guidelines

Recommendations remove daily limit on cholesterol

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) have jointly issued new dietary guidelines that advise Americans to reduce their consumption of sugar and saturated fat to less than 10% each of daily calories.

The 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans also advise people older than 14 years of age to consume less than 2,300 mg of sodium per day.

Based on a review of current scientific evidence on nutrition, the 2015 edition includes updated guidance on topics such as added sugars, sodium, and cholesterol, and new information on caffeine. For example, the new guidelines remove a daily limit on dietary cholesterol. The guidelines recommend, however, that individuals eat as little dietary cholesterol as possible while consuming a healthy eating pattern. In addition, the guidelines now support moderate coffee consumption (three to five 8-oz. cups per day or up to 400 mg per day of caffeine).

The guidelines are updated every five years with the aim of reducing obesity and preventing chronic diseases, such as type-2 diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease, the government said in a statement.

According to the HHS, about half of all American adults — 117 million individuals — have one or more preventable chronic diseases, many of which are related to poor eating patterns and physical inactivity. These include cardiovascular disease, hypertension, type-2 diabetes, some cancers, and poor bone health. More than two-thirds of adults and nearly one-third of children and youth are overweight or obese. These high rates of overweight and obesity and chronic disease have persisted for more than two decades and come not only with increased health risks, but also at a high cost. In 2008, the medical costs associated with obesity were estimated to be $147 billion. In 2012, the total estimated cost of diagnosed diabetes was $245 billion, including $176 billion in direct medical costs and $69 billion in decreased productivity.

Sources: HHS; January 7, 2016; Reuters; January 7, 2016.