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Guidelines For A Healthy Life

Guidelines For A Healthy LifeFor the first time in more than a decade, scientists have updated the nation's dietary guidelines - stressing flexibility and exercise.

Boston [09.06.02] Recognizing that "one shoe doesn't fit all," a national panel of 21 scientists - including three experts from Tufts - yesterday released significant revisions to the nation's dietary guidelines. The changes - which include an increased emphasis on exercise, while providing flexibility for individual dietary needs - are the first in more than a decade, and are designed to help prevent chronic disease often associated with poor diets.

"For the first time, the Institute of Medicine, part of the National Academies of Science, established a percentage range of nutrients," reported New York's Newsday. "Adults should get 45 percent to 65 percent of their calories from carbohydrates; 20 percent to 35 percent from fat; and 10 percent to 35 percent from protein, according to a panel report issued yesterday."

The new recommendations represent a departure from the strategy of setting fixed percentages for all Americans.

"By setting ranges, there has been an acknowledgement that we as humans do eat relatively higher and lower percentages of nutrients based on our individual needs, desires and cultures," Tufts' Alice Lichtenstein - a member of the panel and a senior scientist at Tufts' USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging - told Newsday.

The changes also reveal a shift in the nutritional problems facing the public.

"[The Tufts expert said,] in the past, the guidelines' major emphasis was on addressing nutrient deficiencies," reported the Boston Herald. "Today, it's on minimizing the risk of heart disease and obesity - a major problem in the United States - by balancing caloric intake with physical exercise."

And, based on the panel's revisions, Americans need to be more active. The new guidelines doubled the recommended amount of daily exercise, advising adults to get at least one hour of moderate exercise every day.

"Whether it be cleaning the house or gardening, just get moving," Lichtenstein told Boston's WCVB Channel 5 News. "Cumulatively, it should add up to at least one hour."

According to the Herald, the revised guidelines offer much greater leeway, while focusing on recommendations that should help reduce obesity and the risk of heart disease.

"Different things work for different people," Lichtenstein told the Herald. "We can offer guidance, but it really boils down to, 'What should I do as an individual?'"

The thousand-page report was prepared by 21 top scientists across the country, including Lichtenstein, and Susan Roberts -- both professors in the University's Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy -- and Tufts medical professor William Rand. No other university was represented on the panel by as many scientists as Tufts.

Image courtesy of storybridge.com

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