SoFAS refer to the solid fats and added sugars that contribute
too many calories - about 35 percent - to the American diet for
kids, teens and grownups. You likely understand the meaning of
added sugars. Solid fats are the fats in butter, cheese, stick
margarine, vegetable shortening and the fats in meat.
Have you ever wished for a dietary roadmap to help
you in your family's meal planning? Maybe one using a science-based
approach by our nation's top nutrition experts and updated to align
with the latest research? The recently released Dietary Guidelines
Advisory Committee report is just that.
First developed in 1980, the Dietary Guidelines are
updated every five years. In addition to helping people like you
navigate the nutrition world, they're used for federal nutrition
programs and building consumer messages. For example, the National
School Lunch Program uses the recommendations in order to feed more
than 30 million children every day.
Its new focus is on children's health. Preventing
childhood obesity is the single most powerful public health
initiative to combat and reverse our country's obesity epidemic
You likely know what to do. The trouble is doing it. It's
so easy to overeat, eat the wrong foods and not get any exercise.
The report acknowledges the difficulty in changing your diet unless
changes are made to the overall food environment. How do you eat a
nutrient-dense diet at the same time supermarkets, schools,
restaurants and other food venues offer myriad food and beverage
choices high in fat, sugar and sodium?
The report recommends that we:
The committee suggests people reduce sodium to just 1,500
milligrams each day, and cut out foods with added sodium. Some
nutrition experts dismiss this as being unrealistic in today's
society. The report also recommends upping potassium in the
diet-plentiful in produce-which helps cut sodium's effect on blood
According to Toby Smithson, RD, LDN, CDE, a spokesperson
for the American Dietetic Association and community dietitian for
the Lake County Health Department and Community Health Center, some
groups feel there should be more definitive guidelines for the
amount of fat in the diet and more emphasis on vitamin D. She adds
that some critics want "more focus on choosing whole grains instead
of making half your grains whole."
Released on June 15, the report was open to public comment
for 30 days. The panel's recommendations will be considered when
the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and
Human Services develop the final Dietary Guidelines later this
The guidelines will form the basis of the new food guide
pyramid, scheduled for revision next spring.
To read the full report, go to dietaryguidelines.gov.
Christine M. Palumbo, RD, is a nutritionist living in Naperville.
See more of Christine's stories here.
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