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News story: New dietary guidelines could save lives (PCRM) MiamiHerald.com

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  • Pamela Rice
    [EXCERPT: But the bright spot is hard to miss: The new guidelines devote two full pages to vegetarian and vegan diets and the health benefits of following
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 3, 2011
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      [EXCERPT: But the bright spot is hard to miss:
      The new guidelines devote two full pages to
      vegetarian and vegan diets and the health
      benefits of following these eating patterns. They
      point out that these diets provide nutritional
      advantages and reduce obesity, heart disease and
      overall mortality.]

      Original:
      http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/02/02/2047078/new-dietary-guidelines-could-save.html

      The Miami Herald
      © 2011 Miami Herald Media Company. All Rights Reserved.
      Posted on Wed, Feb. 02, 2011

      New dietary guidelines could save lives

      BY SUSAN LEVIN
      www.PCRM.org

      Every five years since 1980, the government has
      given the American public nutrition advice by
      updating the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
      And every year since then, Americans have become
      markedly more overweight.

      But the revised advice the government just dished
      out could help change this. The just-released
      2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans puts a
      long-overdue emphasis on vegetarian and vegan
      foods and how they can tackle the obesity crisis.
      As a dietitian focusing on chronic disease
      prevention, I'm thrilled about this new addition
      to the guidelines, and I hope Americans take
      these recommendations to heart.

      Conclusive scientific evidence supports a
      low-fat, plant-based diet for optimal health.
      Peer-reviewed studies find that people who avoid
      meat cut their risk of obesity, diabetes and
      heart disease -- the No. 1 cause of death in
      America. Researchers have found that low-fat,
      plant-based diets can even help reverse type 2
      diabetes and heart disease after these diseases
      have already set in.

      This is not new information, but the federal
      government has been extremely slow to accept that
      plant-based diets are the healthiest choice for
      Americans. Food industry interests have often
      gotten in the way of current evidence on
      nutrition and health.

      The 2010 Dietary Guidelines are not perfect. They
      still avoid listing foods people need to eat less
      of, like meat and cheese, apparently to avoid
      upsetting meat and dairy producers. And they
      still recommend dairy products even though these
      foods are unnecessary and linked to serious
      health problems.

      But the bright spot is hard to miss: The new
      guidelines devote two full pages to vegetarian
      and vegan diets and the health benefits of
      following these eating patterns. They point out
      that these diets provide nutritional advantages
      and reduce obesity, heart disease and overall
      mortality.

      Previous advisory panels have noted the value of
      vegetarian diets, but the new guidelines are the
      first to specifically recommend them. It's
      unfortunate that the government waited to take
      bold action until the majority of American adults
      and one in three children are overweight or
      obese, but it's better late than never. The new
      guidelines come with a sense of urgency to do all
      we can to fight obesity and other diet-related
      health problems.

      The diabetes epidemic alone costs the United
      States $174 billion a year, including $116 in
      direct medical expenses, according to new numbers
      from the Centers for Control and Prevention.
      Since just 2008, the number of Americans with
      prediabetes has increased by nearly 40 percent.
      An estimated 25.8 children and adults have
      diabetes, and an additional 79 million have
      prediabetes.

      The Dietary Guidelines are renewed every five
      years. Imagine what the diabetes numbers will
      look like in 2015 if we don't take the new
      recommendations seriously. I hope the updated
      guidelines quickly translate into stronger
      federal nutrition programs with a heavy emphasis
      on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes.
      I'm especially hopeful these new recommendations
      will motivate the National School Lunch Program
      to add more vegetarian options in lunch lines to
      help reduce childhood obesity rates.

      Despite all the evidence backing the
      healthfulness of a plant-based diet, I know the
      Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee faced
      challenges in updating the guidelines. But I'm
      glad committee members acknowledged America's
      current state of health and rewrote the
      guidelines with our future generations in mind.

      Susan Levin is the director of nutrition
      education for the nonprofit vegan organization
      Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine in
      Washington, D.C.
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