2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans
With the release of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, it is apparent that a shift is occurring in the approach to address the nation’s obesity epidemic. Differing from previous dietary guidelines, which focused solely on nutrition intervention, the new guidelines take a holistic approach to improving health outcomes. The approach both is refreshing and helps to set a new standard for improving the nation’s nutrition status.
With a newfound focus on health promotion and chronic disease risk reduction, the updated guidelines reflect the importance of establishing healthy eating patterns and physical activity behaviors as preventive measures to combat obesity.
As stated in the guidelines:
The ultimate goal…is to improve the health of our Nation’s current and future generations by facilitating and promoting healthy eating and physical activity choices so that these behaviors become the norm among all individuals.
Creating a new norm for the American population will undoubtedly be an arduous task. However, there are clear indications that the dietary guidelines are fundamentally headed in the right direction.
From a health education perspective, the integration and development of the dietary guideline recommendations were based upon Social-Ecological Model (Dahlberg & Krug, 2002). This is the primary indication of how the guidelines can help Americans to make healthier choices. Basing the guidelines on the Social-Ecological model allows for the development of strategies that focus on the relationship among behavioral, environmental, and social ecological influences that can lead to effective and sustainable behavioral and lifestyle modifications. This is very telling because it demonstrates that to improve the nation’s nutrition standards, it is vital to understand that diet and exercise are not the sole contributors to the problem; rather, the problem results from an interplay of many health influences.
The emphasis on and priority for improving the nation’s health now rests with transforming the way Americans view nutrition. Leveraging health education principles—by incorporating behavior change models and providing useful tools to support this change—can do more than inform and guide Americans through this nutrition transformation. Health education helps to ensure that Americans can understand the basic nutrition information and feel empowered to take action to improve their health in ways they may have never imagined. With action comes the shift that the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans aim to achieve—improved health for the nation.
For more information on the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, visit http://www.dietaryguidelines.gov.
Specialist, Health Education