January 31, 2011

Americans Should Cut Down On Salt, Lose Weight

The Obama administration said on Monday that Americans need to cut salt and eat more fruits and vegetables.

The administration also advised Americans to drink more water instead of sugary drinks, cut fat and switch to whole grains.

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said in a statement that the "bottom line" is that Americans are too fat.

Over one-third of children and two-thirds of adults in the U.S. are overweight or obese.

"It's important to have guidelines that will help us deal with that issue of obesity," Vilsack said. "These new and improved dietary recommendations give individuals the information to make thoughtful choices of healthier foods in the right portions and to complement those choices with physical activity."

The new guidelines include 23 key recommendations for the general public, and six for specific groups like pregnant women.  General recommendations include avoiding oversized portions, choosing foods with lower sodium, and eating more fruits and vegetables.

The agriculture department said that the guidelines are based on a review of scientific literature and form the basis of nutrition education programs, federal programs like school meals and Meals on Wheels for seniors, and inform advice provided by health professionals.

First lady Michelle Obama has been leading initiatives to help U.S. schoolchildren loose weight and eat healthier.

Last week, grocers and food and drink makers announced a new system of displaying nutritional information on packages.  The "Nutrition Keys" display information about calories, saturated fat, sodium, total sugars, and other nutrients.

Critics say the industry labels fail to distinguish good and bad nutrients in products.


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