Putting the DGAs into Action for Consumers – Q&A with OYED Nutrition Advisors
March is National Nutrition Month — a nutrition education and information campaign, initiated by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, to help Americans make informed food choices and develop sound eating and physical activity habits. This year’s theme, “savor the flavor of eating right,” focuses on taking time to enjoy food traditions and appreciating the pleasures, great flavors and social experiences food can add to our lives. Being such a versatile food with which to cook or just to snack on, yogurt fits into nearly all healthy eating patterns.
Using National Nutrition Month as a touch point between nutrition educators and consumers is a great way to build momentum and enthusiasm around eating well. In that spirit, we asked our One Yogurt Every Day (OYED) Nutrition Advisors how the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGAs) can be interpreted and put into action in each of their respective fields. Check out their responses below, and please let us know the ways you are integrating the DGAs into your work so we can share best practices.
Vice President, Corporate Affairs
The Dannon Company, Inc.
Robert Murray, MD
Where do you see the greatest opportunity for physicians to connect to the DGAs when speaking to parents about child nutrition?
The 2015 DGAs offer clinicians a fresh way of thinking and speaking about child nutrition. The emphasis is on building dietary patterns, which means that our primary goal is to help families identify well-liked, nutrient-rich foods that can serve as foundation foods within each of the 5 food groups – fruits, vegetables, whole grains, dairy and quality proteins. This means focusing on nutrient-dense food that can be served regularly in meals or as snacks for the whole family.
The DGAs also provide an opportunity for learning and hopefully changing behaviors for parents and their children. The percentage of children getting enough calcium dramatically decreases after age two. Calcium, vitamin D and potassium are three of the nutrients that most Americans need more of in their diet (as identified by the DGAs). An example of a great nutrient-dense foundation food could be yogurt, as in addition to calcium, many yogurts also contain vitamin D and potassium — which help with bone development and growth. Chapter 3 of the DGAs sets up the conversations that parents and physicians should be having around the role each play in healthy development for children.
Constance Brown-Riggs, MSEd, RD, CDE, CDN How can diabetes educators incorporate the DGAs into their work with clients and patients?
Almost 30 million Americans have diabetes, the majority of which are type 2. Diabetes educators have a responsibility and an opportunity to use the 2015 DGAs as a tool to teach their clients about positive eating behavior. The DGAs list type 2 diabetes as a preventable chronic disease related to poor quality eating patterns and physical inactivity, and say moderate evidence indicates that healthy eating patterns are associated with a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes.
I have long counseled patients to think about their health more holistically, versus just “dieting,” and am pleased that this shift toward dietary patterns is reflected in federal nutrition policy. Individuals with diabetes should choose a healthy pattern that suits their lifestyle, and seek ways to insert the five food groups into every meal. Additionally, some of my less-prescriptive tips include: accentuate the positive, find joy in movement, eat what you love, don’t set yourself up for failure and find your inspiration.
Yvonne Bronner, ScD How can the DGAs be best leveraged to improve health outcomes for WIC participants? According to the 2015 DGAs, the U.S. public continues to be deficient in four key nutrients: calcium, potassium, vitamin D and fiber. Our population also faces an alarming rise in diet-related health issues such as hypertension, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. There is an opportunity for the WIC program to expand upon current practices to align with the DGAs’ five key recommendations. This could potentially create a vast positive impact on this critical community that is at high risk for deficiency in the nutrients of public health concern, as well as diet-related health problems. Specifically, opportunities for WIC include:
Increasing access to fresh fruits and vegetables (DGAs recommendation 1)
Enhancing WIC’s nutrition education component that teaches clients the importance of variety, nutrient density and serving size (DGAs recommendation 2); while limiting added sugars, saturated fat and sodium (DGAs recommendation 3)
Supporting WIC clients in shifting to healthier food and beverage choices (DGAs recommendation 4)
Continuing to teach pregnant women how to shift to healthier choices, impact the next generation by breastfeeding, and gradually introduce healthy eating patterns (DGAs recommendation 5) to children during the transitional feeding stages.
For women and children participating in WIC, yogurt has the opportunity to serve as a nutrient-dense, convenient food option that can provide three of the four nutrients of concern (calcium, potassium, vitamin D), and can also be easily paired with fruits, vegetables, nuts and whole grains to increase intake of other key food groups while supporting a healthy eating pattern.
As part of its National Nutrition Month activities, the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP) launched the MyPlate, MyWins Challenge and video series. The MyPlate, MyWins Challenge encourages friendly competition to promote small changes for a healthier lifestyle. The MyPlate, MyWins video series brings MyPlate to life, showing families who find simple solutions to make healthy eating work for them. This animated video is great for consumers, and features tips for healthy eating style – for instance, “Enjoy milk and yogurt in recipes or on their own.”
New Government Research Priorities Focus on Dietary Patterns
Earlier this month, the Interagency Committee on Human Nutrition Research released the 2016-2021 National Nutrition Research Roadmap designed to guide federal nutrition research. Two of the three key questions identified in the Roadmap focus on healthy eating patterns — a central theme of the 2015 DGAs. The Roadmap also encourages research around nutrition-related chronic diseases and health disparities, particularly for at-risk groups such as pregnant women, children and older adults.
A recently-released Healthy Eating Research report proposes strategies to increase availability, visibility and affordability of nutritious foods in smaller food retail formats such as convenience stores, pharmacies and dollar stores, to increase overall access to healthy foods. Grounded in the 2015 DGAs, the report identifies basic, minimum stocking levels for healthful foods and beverages — including yogurt. As a well-liked, convenient, versatile option, yogurt can be part of the solution to increasing access to nutrient-dense foods.
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