CSPI Applauds New Dietary Recommendations

Calls for New Government Campaigns to Implement Them


Statement of CSPI Executive Director Michael F. Jacobson

The new Dietary Guidelines is the most health-oriented ever. It provides stronger recommendations for consuming less sodium and trans fat and more whole grains. The Guidelines also recommends eating nine servings a day—about four-and-a-half cups—of fruits and vegetables, up from five servings.

Importantly, the guidelines apply to the federal school lunch and breakfast programs. Under the new Guidelines, schools will need to offer less-salty foods and more fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

Although the Guidelines does not give specific limits for trans fat and added sugars, its intent is clear. It advises people to consume as little trans fat as possible. It also recommends choosing “foods and beverages with little added sugars or caloric sweeteners.” The Guidelines states that only eight teaspoons of added sugars—less than in a can of Coke—fit into a healthy moderate-fat diet. In a higher-fat diet, there’s no room for any added sugars.

As good as the Dietary Guidelines is, it will do little to improve the public’s health without vigorous efforts to improve the food environment and communicate them with the public. To support the guidelines’ healthy-weight goals, Congress needs to provide the Centers for Disease Control with greatly increased funding for programs that promote nutrition and activity and pass laws requiring calorie labeling on menus at chain restaurants and shielding kids from junk-food marketing. Because industry has done little voluntarily to implement past Dietary Guidelines for Americans, government regulatory agencies need to take such actions as limiting the salt content of processed foods, eliminating the use of partially hydrogenated oils, and lowering the current limits on fat in processed meats.