Highlights of the July Journal of the American Dietetic Association

June 30, 2004

The July 2004 issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association contains articles and research studies you may find of interest. Below is a summary of some of this month's articles. For more information or to receive a faxed copy of a Journal article, call Kelly Liebbe at 800-877-1600, ext. 4769 or e-mail media@eatright.org. This release is available on ADA's Web site, http://www.eatright.org/pr.

Excess weight at age 5: Predicting future problems?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 15 percent of children ages 6 to 11 are overweight, putting them at risk for health problems such as diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure.

Researchers at The Pennsylvania State University studied 153 girls living in central Pennsylvania. They found that girls who were at risk for excess weight at age 5 had significantly higher rates of "dietary restraint" by age 9 because of trying to maintain or lose weight, weight concern, body dissatisfaction and a tendency to overeat immediately after a meal in the absence of hunger.

"Children's participation, parental involvement and knowledge of portion sizes can help prevent excess weight in children," said registered dietitian and ADA spokesperson Melinda Johnson.

"Parents are primary role models for kids. They need to encourage, promote and model a healthy lifestyle that includes regular physical activity. Parents with concerns about their children's weight should consult a dietetics professional to make sure they approach their child's weight in a manner that will not do unintentional harm."

"Don't Blame the Pyramid"

In recent years, the Food Guide Pyramid, in particular with its emphasis on carbohydrates as a significant percentage of a daily diet, has been blamed by some people for the rise in excess weight and obesity in this country. However, according to a commentary by researchers from Tufts University, it's not the Pyramid that is to blame for the rise in weight in this country but ourselves for not following the Pyramid's guidelines.

The authors say larger portions, increases in daily calorie intake and a sedentary lifestyle are the real reasons why so many Americans are battling the bulge.

In 1992, the United States Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services introduced the Food Guide Pyramid as an educational tool to help teach people how to achieve a healthy lifestyle by following a healthy eating plan and incorporating regular physical activity into a daily routine.

The USDA's 1999-2000 Healthy Eating Index reveals "16 percent of the population ate a 'good diet,' whereas the diets of 74 percent of Americans were classified as 'needs improvement'."

According to the Tufts authors, too many people fail to follow the recommendations of the Pyramid, with breakdowns somewhere between knowledge and practice.

"The average American Dietary style at the beginning of the 21st century resembles an hour glass rather than the federal government's Food Guide Pyramid," the authors write. We gobble huge amounts of added fats and sugars from the top tier of the Pyramid ... and heaping plates of pasta and other refined grains from the bottom tier, but we are sorely lacking in the vegetables, fruits, low-fat milk products and other nutritious foods in the middle of the Pyramid."

According to registered dietitian and ADA spokesperson Bettye Nowlin: "A recipe for a healthy lifestyle is following a sensible eating plan based on the Food Guide Pyramid and getting plenty of regular physical activity."

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans, developed by the USDA and HHS, sum up the basics about eating and being active for good health. As required by law, the Dietary Guidelines are now being reviewed in light of emerging science and will be updated and revised next year. That may mean revisions to the Food Guide Pyramid, but no one yet knows for sure.
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The Journal of the American Dietetic Association is the official research publication of the American Dietetic Association and is the premier peer-reviewed journal in the field of nutrition and dietetics.

With nearly 70,000 members, the American Dietetic Association is the nation's largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. Based in Chicago, ADA serves the public by promoting optimal nutrition, health and well-being. Visit ADA at http://www.eatright.org.

American Dietetic Association

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