The US government has published its “Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005” report, which includes science-based advice to promote health and reduce the risk of chronic diseases through nutrition and physical activity.

This, the sixth edition of the guidelines, places stronger emphasis on reducing calorie consumption and increasing physical activity, amid increasing concerns about obesity levels in the US. Almost two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese, and more than half get too little physical activity.

The guidelines, a joint project of the US Departments of Health and Human Services and Agriculture, form the basis of federal food programmes and nutrition education programmes.

“The new Dietary Guidelines highlight the principle that Americans should keep their weight within healthful limits and engage in ample physical activity,” said Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman.

“The process we used to develop these recommendations was more rigorous and more transparent than ever before. Taken together, the recommendations will help consumers make smart choices from every food group, get the most nutrition out of the calories consumed and find a balance between eating and physical activity,” she added.

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The guidelines include 41 key recommendations, including advice to make small decreases in food and beverage calories and increase physical activity to prevent gradual weight gain over time, and to choose foods that limit the intake of saturated and trans fats, cholesterol, added sugars, salt, and alcohol.

The guidelines encourage consumption of a variety of fruit and vegetables, whole-grain products and fat-free or low-fat milk or milk products.

The US Food Products Association, which represents the US food industry, welcomed the guidelines, saying they provide “a unique opportunity for consumer education on nutrition and the role of physical activity in creating a healthful lifestyle”.

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