January 2, 1996
Web posted at: 11:55 p.m. EST
From Correspondent Eugenia Halsey
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- With an estimated 300,000 people dying each year from diseases brought on by poor diet or too little physical activity, the federal health department has rung in the year with a set of dietary guidelines that emphasize physical exercises.
Donna Shalala, secretary of health and human services, said the new guidelines are aimed at encouraging Americans to adopt dietary resolutions to protect their health and possibly save their lives.
"They will help Americans to cut through all the fads and all the myths concerning our diets," Shalala said. (170K AIFF sound or 170K WAV sound)
The guidelines are updated by the federal government every five years. The latest version, which can be found in the fourth edition of "Nutrition and your Health: Dietary guidelines for Americans," reiterate the message of moderation and variety in foods. The reports recommends choosing a diet that includes plenty of grain products, vegetables and fruits and is moderate in salt, sodium and sugar.
This year, the guidelines also recommend that individuals exercise 30 minutes or more each day. The drill can include gardening and home repair or bypassing the elevator and taking the stairs.
"We're not talking about mandatory marathons or about Cal Ripken-style workouts," Shalala said.
For the first time, the guidelines endorse a vegetarian diet, saying it can provide sufficient nutrients but may need to be supplemented by vitamin B-12, found only in animal products.
The guidelines also reverse past recommendations allowing people to add on a few pounds with age, and call for keeping weight stable over the years.
For example, in 1990, the recommended weight for adults 5 feet, 6 inches tall and under 34 years old was between 118 pounds and 155 pounds. Those over 35 with a similar height could weigh between 130 and 167 pounds.
Now, it's recommended that adults over 35 have the same weight range as the younger adult -- between 118 and 155 pounds.
But the guidelines caution against crash diets, saying weight loss should be slow and steady -- about 1/2 pound to 1 pound per week.
The guidelines also remove a statement from the 1990 guidelines that alcohol consumption has no benefit. Since some benefits have been documented -- particularly in cardiovascular disease -- the revised guidelines allow for alcohol intake in moderation. They recommend no more than one glass a day for women, and two for men.
The guidelines are consistent with the food pyramid, but a consumer group says they're not strict enough.
Michael Jacobson of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a private food watchdog group, said Americans should be eating a diet much lower in saturated fat, sugar, cholesterol, and sodium than recommended by the guidelines. (94K AIFF sound or 94K WAV sound)
The government disagrees, saying the new report is based on the best scientific evidence and on what is realistically attainable by Americans.
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