New Dietary Guidelines

You’ve probably seen it in the news: the US government has released the new dietary guidelines for 2005. The USDA has a nice summary of the guidelines. There are some changes, but it’s not surprising that they’re asking American’s to eat fewer calories, and to exercise more because “almost two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese, and more than half get too little physical activity.”

They’re going to release consumer brochures later this year. I hope they explain a few things that I’ve never been clear about. For example, how many calories should I eat per day? They’re always talking about the reference 2,000 calorie diet, but who should eat 2,000 calories? I used this calorie calculator, and it said that I should eat 3,147 calories per day to be a healthy 170 lbs. And that’s if I exercise the recommended 60 minutes per day. If I only exercise “rarely”, then it says that I should eat 2,600 calories per day. I figure that I average between 1,500 and 2,500 per day and I don’t exercise much, so according to that calculator I should weigh less than 170 lbs (I don’t, I weigh more). I have to set the calculator to 87 lbs. before it shows the reference 2000 calories. It just doesn’t add up. It’s not even close.

The other problem I have with the guidelines is that they’re suggesting that we exercise at least one hour per day most days of the week. Don’t get me wrong; I’m sure we’d all be healthier if we exercised that much, but is it really practical? I don’t think so. I’d like to see some real guidelines for the American couch potato. Maybe we need to figure out ways to get exercise 30 min. per day, and only eat 1,500 calories mostly from vegetables. I don’t know. I’m not a nutritionist, but until they come out with guidelines that are clear and practical, most people won’t follow them.

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