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CSPI: Government guidelines too vague

The Center for Science in the Public Interest and several nutrition experts have criticized the USDA's Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee as being too vague in its nutrition messages. At issue was a recent report by the Committee that advised Americans to choose fats and carbohydrates "wisely for good health." This latter phrase, said CSPI, was so imprecise as to be meaningless.

A letter to the Dept. of Health and Human Services, signed by CSPI officials and several noted health authorities, urged the government to make nutrition messages more specific and understandable. The signers included Marion Nestle, New York University; John La Rosa, SUNY Downstate Medical Center; Thomas N. Richardson, Stanford University School of Medicine; David Katz, Yale University School of Medicine; and Carlos A. Camargo, Harvard Medical School.

"The scientific fine print in the advisory committee's report makes it clear that Americans should be eating much less saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, and added sugars," said CSPI's Margo Wootan. "But the committee's proposed take-home messages don't provide clear-cut advice on improving diets."

The Dept. of Health and Human Services and the USDA will use the Committee's report as the basis for the official Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Present guidelines advise Americans to "choose a diet that is low in saturated fat and cholesterol and moderate in total fat," and to "choose beverages and foods to moderate your intake of sugars."

CSPI and its cadre of experts further advocated that consumer advice be focused on foods rather than nutrients, such as "eat less cheese, beef, pork, whole and 2% milk, egg yolks, pastries, and other foods that are high in saturated fat, trans fat, or cholesterol."

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