All one has to do is watch late-night television and its endless stream of infomercials to realize that America is obsessed with dieting. However, while the US government has certain recommendations for general nutrition, it did not have, until now, a national standard for dieting, based on the latest science and refuting many misconceptions about fat and cholesterol.
All that has changed recently. The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, commissioned by the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Agriculture, has released a set of agreed-upon recommendations regarding obesity and weight loss in America. Their research points to sugar as the biggest villain when it comes to obesity and excess weight. While sugar now represents 13% of the calories consumed by the average American, the panel concluded that it should make up no more than 10% of a normal, healthy diet.
The panel even challenges the authorities to try and forcibly reduce the amount of sugar consumed by American in much the same way certain states have successfully reduced smoking among their citizens: taxation.
The federal government or individual states could, following the panel’s advice, tax sugary beverages and sweets, as well as high-sodium food products. “Taxation on higher sugar- and sodium-containing foods may encourage consumers to reduce consumption and revenues generated could support health promotion efforts,” the report said.
Contrary to popularly-held beliefs, the panel concluded that cholesterol and dairy are safe to eat. In addition, the new report advises people to consume more coffee – claiming that it can reduce one’s risk of heart disease and diabetes when consumed in moderate amounts. So go ahead and drink up to five cups per day!
What is most fascinating about the new findings is the number of differences between its findings and what most Americans have been told was “healthy” since the 1980s: only low-fat, low-cholesterol items that might or might not have high levels of sugar.