Every five years since 1980, a new edition of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans is published. Its goal is to make recommendations about the components of a healthy and nutritionally adequate diet to help promote health and prevent chronic diseases for current and future generations. Although many of its recommendations have remained relatively regular over time, the Dietary Guidelines have evolved as scientific knowledge has grown. These advancements have provided a greater understanding of, and focus on, the importance of healthy eating patterns, and how foods and beverages act synergistically to affect health. Therefore, healthy eating patterns are a focus of the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines.
Over the past century, essential nutrient deficiencies have dramatically decreased, many infectious diseases have been overcome, and most of the U.S. population can now anticipate a long and productive life. However, as infectious disease rates have dropped, the rates of noncommunicable diseases—specifically, chronic diet-related diseases—have risen, due in part to changes in lifestyle behaviors. A history of poor eating and physical activity patterns have a cumulative effect and have contributed to significant nutrition- and physical activity-related health challenges that now face the U.S. population. About half of all-American adults—117 million individuals—have one or more preventable chronic diseases, many of which are related to poor quality eating patterns and physical inactivity. These include cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, some cancers, and poor bone health. More than two-thirds of adults and nearly one-third of children and youth are overweight or obese. These high rates of overweight and obesity and chronic disease have persisted for more than two decades and come not only with increased health risks but also at a high cost. In 2008, the medical costs associated with obesity were estimated to be $147 billion. In 2012, the total estimated cost of diagnosed diabetes was $245 billion, including $176 billion in direct medical costs and $69 billion in decreased productivity.
Check out the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture here.