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Obesity and Nutrition
The American Public Health Association announced its support for the new dietary guidelines for Americans released today by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. “The revised dietary guidelines provide sound science-based advice for promoting health and reducing risk for major chronic diseases through diet and physical activity,” said Georges C. Benjamin, MD, FACP, executive director of the American Public Health Association. “The release of the updated guidelines represents a valuable step in addressing the nutritional health of the nation. Now the hard part is putting these recommendations into action.” The guidelines, which are reviewed, updated and released by HHS and USDA every five years, contain the latest nutritional and dietary guidance for the general public and are considered the foundation on which national nutrition programs and policies are based. The guidelines also provide a platform for reducing health disparities and addressing environmental changes that can influence the public’s ability to follow dietary guidance. The corresponding Food Guidance System, previously known as the Food Guide Pyramid, is expected to be released in February 2005.
The Surgeon General's Call To Action To Prevent and Decrease Overweight and Obesity
Overweight and obesity have reached nationwide epidemic proportions. Both the prevention and treatment of overweight and obesity and their associated health problems are important public health goals. To achieve these goals, the Surgeon General’s Call To Action To Prevent and Decrease Overweight and Obesity is committed to five overarching principles: Promote the recognition of overweight and obesity as major public health problems. Assist Americans in balancing healthful eating with regular physical activity to achieve and maintain a healthy or healthier body weight. Identify effective and culturally appropriate interventions to prevent and treat overweight and obesity. Encourage environmental changes that help prevent overweight and obesity. Develop and enhance public-private partnerships to help implement this vision.
Adequate Nutrients Within Calorie Needs

Many Americans consume more calories than they need without meeting recommended intakes for a number of nutrients. This circumstance means that most people need to choose meals and snacks that are high in nutrients but low to moderate in energy content; that is, meeting nutrient recommendations must go hand in hand with keeping calories under control. Doing so offers important benefits—normal growth and development of children, health promotion for people of all ages, and reduction of risk for a number of chronic diseases that are major public health problems.

Based on dietary intake data or evidence of public health problems, intake levels of the following nutrients may be of concern for:

Adults: calcium, potassium, fiber, magnesium, and vitamins A (as carotenoids), C, and E,
Children and adolescents: calcium, potassium, fiber, magnesium, and vitamin E,
Specific population groups (see below): vitamin B12, iron, folic acid, and vitamins E and D.
At the same time, in general, Americans consume too many calories and too much saturated and trans fats, cholesterol, added sugars, and salt.

Consume a variety of nutrient-dense foods and beverages within and among the basic food groups while choosing foods that limit the intake of saturated and trans fats, cholesterol, added sugars, salt, and alcohol.
Meet recommended intakes within energy needs by adopting a balanced eating pattern, such as the USDA Food Guide or the DASH Eating Plan.
Key Recommendations for Specific Population Groups
People over age 50. Consume vitamin B12 in its crystalline form (i.e., fortified foods or supplements).
Women of childbearing age who may become pregnant. Eat foods high in heme-iron and/or consume iron-rich plant foods or iron-fortified foods with an enhancer of iron absorption, such as vitamin C-rich foods.
Women of childbearing age who may become pregnant and those in the first trimester of pregnancy. Consume adequate synthetic folic acid daily (from fortified foods or supplements) in addition to food forms of folate from a varied diet.
Older adults, people with dark skin, and people exposed to insufficient ultraviolet band radiation (i.e., sunlight). Consume extra vitamin D from vitamin D-fortified foods and/or supplements.

Physical Activity

Engage in regular physical activity and reduce sedentary activities to promote health, psychological well-being, and a healthy body weight.
To reduce the risk of chronic disease in adulthood: Engage in at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity, above usual activity, at work or home on most days of the week.
For most people, greater health benefits can be obtained by engaging in physical activity of more vigorous intensity or longer duration.
To help manage body weight and prevent gradual, unhealthy body weight gain in adulthood: Engage in approximately 60 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity activity on most days of the week while not exceeding caloric intake requirements.
To sustain weight loss in adulthood: Participate in at least 60 to 90 minutes of daily moderate-intensity physical activity while not exceeding caloric intake requirements. Some people may need to consult with a healthcare provider before participating in this level of activity.
Achieve physical fitness by including cardiovascular conditioning, stretching exercises for flexibility, and resistance exercises or calisthenics for muscle strength and endurance.
Key Recommendations for Specific Population Groups
Children and adolescents. Engage in at least 60 minutes of physical activity on most, preferably all, days of the week.
Pregnant women. In the absence of medical or obstetric complications, incorporate 30 minutes or more of moderate-intensity physical activity on most, if not all, days of the week. Avoid activities with a high risk of falling or abdominal trauma.
Breastfeeding women. Be aware that neither acute nor regular exercise adversely affects the mother's ability to successfully breastfeed.
Older adults. Participate in regular physical activity to reduce functional declines associated with aging and to achieve the other benefits of physical activity identified for all adults.
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