Spring 2005     Vol. 13, Issue 1

On January 12, 2005, the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Agriculture (USDA) jointly issued the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005. Updated every five years, the U.S. guidelines provide up-to-date science-based recommendations designed to promote health and reduce the risk for major chronic diseases related to poor diet and a sedentary lifestyle. The summer 2005 issue of the MONITOR is devoted to these guidelines.

In the lead article, Eric J. Hentges and his colleagues from USDA discuss the new guidelines and their implications for the American public. The authors also compare the 2005 directives with their 2000 predecessor. In a companion article, anti-obesity guru Kelly Brownell from Yale University examines the epidemic of childhood obesity around the globe, probing its causes and consequences, while proposing viable strategies for preventing this scourge on humanity.

In the Insider’s View, Center for Science in the Public Interest’s Michael F. Jacobson tackles the challenge of implementing the new guidelines. Jacobson emphasizes the need for bold government actions, especially to control trans fat intake. He also underlines the need for major education campaigns to translate policy into action.

Two Features address the efficacy of strategies for translating the new guidelines. In the first, Meir Stampfer of the Harvard School of Public Health critiques USDA’s “My Pyramid,” the primary instrument for the American public to put the guidelines into practice, and proposes an alternate system to better accomplish the goals of risk reduction. The second feature, by Elizabeth Pivonka, is an update on the Produce for Better Health Foundation’s “5 A Day” national, and international, campaign to promote the consumption of vegetables and fruit, a key recommendation of the 2005 guidelines.

In Policy Beat, Derek Yach of the Yale School of Public Health provides insight into the similarities and differences between the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005 and the recommendations for diet and physical activity, aimed at reducing the risk of diet-related noncommunicable diseases, set forth in the World Health Organization/Food and Agriculture Organization report of March 2003.

Finally, CECHE News reports on the progress of two of CECHE’s programs, both of which pertain to reducing the risk of lifestyle-related chronic diseases: a new tobacco-control communications initiative in a South Indian village, and a diet and nutrition scholarship program in Washington D.C.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005 are a major step forward in U.S. nutrition policy. The challenge, as noted by our authors and many other experts, lies in persuading the multiple sectors of American society to use them!

Sushma Palmer, D.Sc.
Chairman, CECHE

Center for Communications, Health and the Environment
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Tel: (202) 965-5990 . Fax: (202) 965-5996
Email: ceche@comcast.net