Newly proposed federal Dietary Guidelines offer consumers practical yet flexible advice to promote better nutrition and health without grasping for simplistic solutions to complex issues, the Grocery Manufacturers of America said today.

At a briefing to highlight the federal government’s upcoming National Nutrition Summit, GMA’s Lisa Katic, a registered dietitian, said “accusations and finger pointing at particular industries or foods detract from meaningful efforts” to address issues such as obesity, malnutrition, and physical inactivity.

“The issues of diet and health are too important to be relegated to simplistic sound bites,” said Katic, GMA Director, Scientific and Nutrition Policy, and one of the few food industry professionals to moderate a panel discussion at the Summit. “Attacking specific nutrients in the food supply does nothing to improve the health of the American people. In the 1970’s, the target was sugar. In the 80’s, it was cholesterol. In the 90’s, the enemy was fat. Now the food police are targeting sugar again.

“Maintaining a healthy diet and active lifestyle involves some discipline and making choices. It doesn’t mean we should take away those choices,” said Katic. “We believe that everyone has a role to play in promoting sensible nutrition and health solutions — including consumers, food companies, farmers, retailers, government officials, educators, and health professionals.”

Katic noted that since the 1969 White House Conference on Food, Nutrition, and Health, “there have been numerous changes in demographics, consumer behavior, eating habits, and technology. Food and beverage companies have responded to, and in some cases anticipated, consumer demands for more nutritional foods and beverages. These innovations include: fortification of cereals and other grain products, development of low-fat foods, creation of single-serve packaging and nutrition labeling, and the offering of healthful ‘functional foods.”‘

She added that the food industry strongly supports the Dietary Guidelines’ emphasis on increased physical activity. “We need to see regular physical activity made a part of every child’s school day,” said Katic. “Children need to be provided with the skills and opportunities to incorporate physical activity into their lives.”

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GMA is the world’s largest association of food, beverage and consumer brand companies. With U.S. sales of more than $460 billion, GMA members employ more than 2.5 million workers in all 50 states. The organization applies legal, scientific, and political expertise from its member companies to vital food, nutrition, and public policy issues affecting the industry. Led by a board of 42 Chief Executive Officers, GMA speaks for food and consumer product manufacturers at the state, federal and international levels on legislative and regulatory issues. The association also leads efforts to increase productivity, efficiency, and growth in the food, beverage and consumer products industry.