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Exercise & Fitness

New dietary guidelines offer little new guidance

February 1, 2011
  • By Patrick J. Skerrett, Former Executive Editor, Harvard Health

About the Author

photo of Patrick J. Skerrett

Patrick J. Skerrett, Former Executive Editor, Harvard Health

Pat Skerrett is the editor of STAT's First Opinion and host of the First Opinion podcast. He is the former editor of the Harvard Health blog and former Executive Editor of Harvard Health Publishing. Before that, he was editor of … See Full Bio
View all posts by Patrick J. Skerrett


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January 16, 2012

Thanks for this useful article..I enjoyed I liked this useful post conversation about Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

December 11, 2011

Enjoyed reading your article.
After losing my job I became overweight unfit and depressed. When I decided to do something about it I went on a low fat diet and began to do some exercise, nothing too strenuous just half hour on an exercise bike each day. I didn’t think of it as being on a diet but a new way of eating and I have continued to eat this way. I don’t crave for food and in the first 12 weeks I lost more than 18lb. My weight loss has continued but has slowed down. I’m a much happier person now.

Brady Myles
October 16, 2011

I acquired more new things on this weight reduction issue. One issue is that good nutrition is extremely vital if dieting. An enormous reduction in fast foods, sugary meals, fried foods, sugary foods, pork, and bright flour products may perhaps be necessary. Possessing wastes harmful bacteria, and poisons may prevent targets for losing belly fat. While selected drugs momentarily solve the issue, the horrible side effects will not be worth it, plus they never give more than a short-lived solution. This can be a known fact that 95% of dietary fads fail. Thanks for sharing your thinking on this blog.

October 14, 2011

We all have different body types. Some people are carbohydrate sensitive, others are Protein sensitive. The idea is to find what body type you are then you will know what foods are best avoided and which foods would be best.
Definitely exercise it will get you fit as well as toned. Combine this with eating right according to your body type, you are in for excellent results
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John Kennedy
May 2, 2011

To get children on track to eating a healthier diet we must “hide” the foods they eat. Not literally, but blend or puree different veggies into other foods they like. Example: When I make spaghetti and meat balls, I blend carrot puree in the sauce. And when I my muffins, I do the same. This way my children get a little of what they want and I get a little of what I want. Healthy children!

Kristie Lorette
April 20, 2011

I agree that vague language is a problem with a lot of the health, eating and fitness advice put out in the world. Since every body is different, maybe the vagueness comes from this. For me and for most people though, it is helpful to have a step-by-step or specific instructions and details on how to eat healthier, which exercises to do or how to make the most of your health.

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sto credits
April 14, 2011

This will be a challenge

eve isk
March 22, 2011

I will attention here!

Mario Pesce
February 25, 2011

It is interesting to see how government directives try to guide people towards a healthier lifestyle.

However I think that the guidelines are probably too general and do not consider different requirements such as those of people who suffer from special conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity etc.

Moreover some terms such as solid fats are too technical for ordinary people.

I wonder if a computer simulation model could be more useful. It would be nice to enter details about a specific nutrition profile together with individual characteristics and receive comments about what should be done to have an healthier lifestile.

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February 22, 2011

Nutrition in this Region continues being ignored as well as the dieticians and nutritionists look to remain stuck inside from meals pyramid mentality that does not work. As soon as will the Federal government and medical authorities understand that a single diet does not do the jobs for all people. Once will an individual step up with plan language and also a plan how the average American can utilize simply and afford? I thank you for your content and agree these new guidelines

February 10, 2011

Nutrition in this Country continues to be ignored and the Dieticians and Nutritionists seem to remain stuck in the food pyramid mentality that doesn’t work. When will the Government and Medical Authorities realize that one diet doesn’t work for all people. When will someone step up with plan language and a plan that the average American can utilize easily and afford? I thank you for your article and agree these ‘new’ guidelines leave us hanging.

February 3, 2011

Nothing new?

The Dietary Guidelines have never before said people should consider following a diet based on the Mediterranean style of eating.

They have never before been so overtly, within the realms of politics, keen to promote other forms of protein, including plant and fish based forms, at the expense of red meat.

I think there is plenty of ‘New’, in the new Dietary Guidelines, not least of which is the extensive use and reference to science based recommendations that special interest groups would find hard to abuse for their own interpretive benefits.

Ken Leebow
February 1, 2011

There’s no way the government can provide proper dietary advice. As you know, it has too many competing interests, lobbyists, and agendas.

If it can’t ban cigarettes, how could the government ever tell us to stop drinking soda, stop eating candy, and all that chemically-laden processed food … enough already.

The message it does send … eat more fruits and veggies…um, that’s trite, hackneyed, and banal.

I say, Eat More, Weigh Less, and be Healthier.

P.S. This is the same government that promotes a disease care system … certainly not a health care system.

P.J. Skerrett
February 10, 2011

Ken — I think there is a way the government can provide clear, unambiguous dietary advice that is excellent for health, but it means pulling the USDA from the decision making. The USDA is great at promoting American agriculture, undertaking research to protect the products of farms and ranches, and advancing the field of agriculture. I say let it do what it’s good at and appoint an impartial team of nutrition experts to handle diet decisions. Finding such a group would be an interesting process to watch!

Pat Skerrett

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