Translating the Dietary Guidelines Report

eat more (fruits and vegetables). For eat less advice, it switches to nutrients. I'd call this obfuscation (and politics).

But the report—for the first time—emphasizes environmental influences on obesity:

The 2010 DGAC recognizes that the current food environment does not adequately facilitate the ability of Americans to follow the evidence-based recommendations outlined in the 2010 DGAC Report. Population growth, availability of fresh water, arable land constraints, climate change, current policies, and business practices are among some of the major challenges that need to be addressed in order to ensure that these recommendations can be implemented nationally.

What business practices? It doesn't say. It does, however, recommend:


    â€¢ Improve foods sold and served in schools, including school breakfast, lunch, and afterschool meals and competitive foods so that they meet the recommendations of the IOM report on school meals

    â€¢ Increase comprehensive health, nutrition, and physical education programs and curricula in US schools and preschools, including food preparation, food safety, cooking, and physical education classes and improved quality of recess

    â€¢ Remove sugar-sweetened beverages and high-calorie snacks from schools, recreation facilities, and other places where children gather

    â€¢ Develop and enforce responsible zoning policies for the location of fast food restaurants near schools and places where children play

This is excellent advice. But how about some suggestions about what individuals might do about it?

The report says little about food marketing. Beyond "develop and enforce effective policies regarding marketing of food and beverage products to children," the report says virtually nothing about the well documented impact of food marketing on children's food choices, dietary intake, and health. Unless I missed it someplace, the research review does not cite the Institute of Medicine's 2006 landmark report Food Marketing to Children and Youth: Threat or Opportunity.

It buries the need for policy changes in long wordy lists. It states the needs for low-income Americans to have access to and afford healthier foods; to produce fruits, vegetables, and grains sustainably; to ensure household food security; to promote sustainable aquaculture; and to encourage the food service industry to serve healthier foods and smaller portions. It does not—and perhaps cannot—recommend policy changes to achieve these important goals.

Overall, the report contains plenty of material for food, nutrition, and health advocates to work with, but you have to read between the lines to find it.

Recall the process. This committee's report is advisory . From 1980 through 2000, Dietary Guidelines advisory committees actually wrote the final Dietary Guidelines. No more. Since 2005, the sponsoring agencies decide what the Dietary Guidelines will say.

The report is open for public comment until July 8. If you think the Dietary Guidelines should provide clear, unambiguous advice about how people should eat to avoid obesity and how we can create a healthier food environment, now would be a good time to express your opinion. Here's how .

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Marion Nestle is a professor in the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University. She is the author of Food Politics, Safe Food, What to Eat, and Pet Food Politics. More

Nestle also holds appointments as Professor of Sociology at NYU and Visiting Professor of Nutritional Sciences at Cornell. She is the author of three prize-winning books: Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health (revised edition, 2007), Safe Food: The Politics of Food Safety (2003), and What to Eat (2006). Her most recent book is Feed Your Pet Right: The Authoritative Guide to Feeding Your Dog and Cat. She writes the Food Matters column for The San Francisco Chronicle and blogs almost daily at Food Politics.

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