Shifts Needed To Align With Healthy Eating Patterns
The DGA,1 the centerpiece of Federal food, nutrition, and health education programs, are consistent with the total diet approach to food guidance. The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) Eating Plan, endorsed by the US Department of Health and Human Services, is a dietary pattern consisting of healthful food choices over time and is also available to assist consumers in implementing these recommendations.7 The US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) MyPlate Food Guidance System also uses a total diet approach to ensure nutritional adequacy and healthy food choices.8 MyPlate’s SuperTracker feature helps consumers plan a nutrient-dense total diet and activity choices that satisfy nutritional requirements within personalized energy needs. The White House’s Let’s Move campaign was launched to reduce child obesity by improving the overall quality of children’s diets and increasing physical activity.
Collectively, these programs encourage Americans to choose nutrient-dense foods and beverages and reduce intakes of saturated and trans fats (solid fats), added sugars, sodium, and alcohol. An example would be the choice of water or nutrient-dense beverages over sugar-sweetened drinks, especially for youth. In the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2005-2006,9 soda/energy/sport drinks added 114 calories/day to the diets of 14- to 18-year-olds. Instead, choosing low-fat or fat-free milk, a nutrient-dense beverage, would provide considerable amounts of calcium, protein, potassium, and other essential nutrients with fewer calories.
Although large servings of foods or beverages high in solid fats, added sugars, sodium, or alcohol are not compatible with the DGA, a dietary pattern that emphasizes nutrient-dense food and beverages in an overall healthy pattern can still balance a small amount of low-nutrient or high-energy density choices (eg, butter/margarine, jam, alcohol) with nutrient-dense food and beverages (eg, vegetables, whole grains, fat-free milk) to achieve an overall healthy dietary pattern. This message of the total diet approach must be communicated to consumers by food and nutrition practitio