WASHINGTON – Three components are included in key recommendations in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans: a focus on balancing calories to manage weight, a focus on food and food components consumers should reduce their consumption of and a focus on foods and nutrients consumers should increase consumption of. Because more than one-third of children and more than two-thirds of adults in the United States are overweight or obese, the 7th edition of Dietary Guidelines for Americans places stronger emphasis on reducing calorie consumption and increasing physical activity.

The guidelines encourage consumers to choose foods providing more potassium, dietary fiber, calcium and vitamin D. Consumers are recommended to focus broadly on weight management. Recommendations are offered to improve eating and physical activity behaviors.

The 2010 guidelines generally maintain the less than 2,300 mg sodium intake level from earlier guidance, but note people over the age of 51 and those any age who are African American or have hypertension, diabetes or chronic kidney disease should reduce sodium intake to less than 1,500 mg.

The guidelines recommend consumers increase the amount and variety of seafood consumed by choosing seafood in place of some meat and poultry; consume less than 10% of calories from saturated fatty acids by replacing them with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids; consume less than 300 mg per day of dietary cholesterol; keep trans fatty acid consumption as low as possible by limiting foods that contain synthetic forms of trans fatty acids; reduce the intake of calories from solid fats and added sugars; consumers increase their intake of fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products; choose a variety of protein foods, which include seafood, lean meat and poultry, eggs, beans and peas, soy products and unsalted nuts and seeds; replace protein foods that are higher in solid fats with choices that are lower in solid fats and calories and/or are sources of oils; and use oils to replace solid fats where possible.

The American Meat Institute said the 2010 Dietary Guidelines affirm meat and poultry products are important components of a balanced, healthy diet.

“It is noteworthy the government’s previous recommendation that consumers eat 5 to 7 oz. from the meat, poultry and beans group will remain unchanged,” said James Hodges AMI executive vice president and president of the American Meat Institute Foundation. “This makes sense because the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee’s documents show the meat, poultry, fish, eggs, nuts group is the only group that is consumed in the recommended amount.”

Although some people believe Americans over-consume meat and poultry products, the most recent nutrition data available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey show, on average, men consume 6.9 oz. of meat and poultry per day and women consume 4.4 oz., Hodges said.

AMI applauded the guidelines for its focus on nutrient-dense foods – those offering more nutrition per calorie than others. “Meat and poultry products are some the most nutrient-dense foods available, are excellent sources of complete protein, iron and zinc and maintain an excellent nutrition per calorie ratio,” Hodges said. “Complete proteins provide all of the essential amino acids necessary for growth and good overall health.”

Meat and poultry products can be helpful in achieving the healthy body weight the committee stressed is a key to good health. “Studies that have published recently also show meat satisfies hunger longer, making lean meat and poultry part of a balanced diet that helps metabolize food more efficiently and prevent between-meal snacking that can lead to weight gain,” Hodges said. “These recommendations highlight the long-standing body of science that says in very clear terms that the key to a healthy lifestyle is a balanced diet that includes each of the key food groups, coupled with daily exercise.

Hodges also responded to the recommendations to reduce sodium. “An analysis of the top-20 sodium-contributing foods consumed by Americans shows only three of these foods are meat products or food products that contain meat,” he said. “Still, the meat industry is actively responding with efforts to expand its low and reduced sodium offerings in an effort to meet different nutrition needs.

“Consumers should heed the Guidelines’ dietary recommendations that they consume 5 to 7 oz. from the meat and beans groups, which is what Americans are consuming, on average, already,” Hodges concluded.