Government unveils new dietary guidelines to curb U.S. waistline

Americans should switch to fat-free or low-fat milk, eat soups and frozen meals with the least sodium and replace sugary drinks with water if they want to reduce their risk of developing diet-related chronic disease, federal officials said Monday.

The recommendations are part of the seventh annual Dietary Guidelines for Americans. This year, the federal government's nutritional guidance places stronger emphasis on reducing calorie consumption and increasing physical activity to help the U.S. combat its obesity epidemic.

"The 2010 Dietary Guidelines are being released at a time when the majority of adults and one in three children is overweight or obese and this is a crisis that we can no longer ignore," Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said Monday. "These new and improved dietary recommendations give individuals the information to make thoughtful choices of healthier foods in the right portions and to complement those choices with physical activity. The bottom line is that most Americans need to trim our waistlines to reduce the risk of developing diet-related chronic disease. Improving our eating habits is not only good for every individual and family, but also for our country."

The guidelines include 23 key recommendations for the general population and six additional ones for specific groups, such as pregnant women. A "next-generation" Food Pyramid is scheduled to be released in the next few months.

The guidelines, for example, recommend that Americans reduce their daily sodium intake to less than 2,300 milligrams a day (1,500 mg for people older than 51 and for African-Americans or people who have hypertension, diabetes or chronic kidney disease); consume less than 10 percent of calories from saturated fatty acids by replacing them with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids; and consume less than 300 mg per day of dietary cholesterol.