New dietary guidelines released Thursday

Published 4:59 pm Thursday, January 7, 2016


Sugary drinks are the top of a list of foods to avoid in a new set of dietary guidelines released Thursday.

Though the Obama administration’s new dietary guidelines back off the strictest sodium rules included in the last version, published five years ago, the new guidelines continue to stress that Americans eat an unhealthy amount of salt.

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The guidelines, which are released every five years, are established to help Americans prevent disease and obesity. They inform everything from food package labels to subsidized school lunches to your doctor’s advice.

The guidelines also ease up on previous guidance on the dangers of dietary cholesterol while adding strict new advice on sugars — especially sugary drinks such as sodas.

John Constancio, director of Child Nutrition with the Port Arthur Independent School District, said the district has for some time not offered sodas to students. The exception is this year, for the first time, high school students can purchase Diet Coke.

Constancio said the USDA establishes the law, and states have the to go stricter or to follow the federal law.

“We took sugar out of drinks several years ago, we don’t even serve surgery flavored drinks,” he said. “Teachers will tell you that if a student has too much sugar they are hyper and won’t settle down.”

It’s not unusual for elementary teachers to call as chastise us for serving chocolate milk, he said.

“We don’t have to have the federal guidelines to tell us to stay away from sugar, our teachers do that for us,” Constancio said.

The new guidelines recommend that added sugar should be 10 percent of daily calories — about 200 calories per day. That’s about the equivalent in one 16-ounce sugary drink, the Associated Press reported Thursday.

According to the new guidelines, sugary drinks comprise 47 percent of added sugars that Americans eat every day.

Though the guidelines ease back on earlier, stricter salt intake recommendations, Americans are still urged to cut their salt consumption.

New data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest that around 90 percent of people eat too much salt. The average person eats 3,400 milligrams of sodium a day, and the guidelines urge Americans to lower that amount to 2,300 milligrams, or about a teaspoon, the AP reported.

Because sodium is said to be a contributor to obesity, people should limit the amount they consume, Constancio said.

“It is good to target those areas in moderation,” he said. “Especially since children nowadays don’t have physical education like they used to, and when they go home they sit in front of the T.V. or the Gameboy.”

After a backlash from the meat industry and Congress, the administration ignored several suggestions from a February report by an advisory committee of doctors and nutrition experts. That panel suggested calling for an environmentally friendly diet lower in red and processed meats and de-emphasized lean meats in its list of proteins that are part of a healthy diet, the AP reported.

The report indicates lean meats are part of a healthy eating pattern.

PAISD schools do serve lean meat, though in small portions.

Though students can purchase a second meal if they are still hungry, each meal is limited to two ounces of meat, per federal regulations, Constancio said.

The latest dietary guidelines do suggest that teen boys and adult men should reduce their meat consumption and eat more vegetables. Males, ages 14 to 70 consume more than the recommended amounts of meat, eggs and poultry, while women are more in line with advised amounts, according to the AP.

Though the 2010 report made a key recommendation that Americans consume less than 300 milligrams of dietary cholesterol a day, or about two eggs, that recommendation is not part of the latest guidelines. Some recent studies have shown little relationship between heart disease and how much dietary cholesterol one eats, the AP reported.

The latest guidelines do, however, warn that a healthy eating pattern should consist of as little dietary cholesterol as possible.

Saturated fats, according to the guidelines, should be limited to 10 percent of total calories.


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