Double Your Exercise Time
U.S. Health Panel Saysfrom
Acknowledging that Americans are getting
fatter, an independent panel of top physicians and nutritionists is
recommending doubling the amount of exercise previously thought necessary to
stay healthy, while setting less rigid dietary guidelines.
The groundbreaking report, prepared for U.S.
government health and nutrition agencies by the Institute of Medicine's Food
and Nutrition Board, urges people to eat more "healthy" fats and allows for
significantly more added sugars in the diet, a recommendation that some critics
say could discourage consumers from getting all the daily vitamins and
nutrients they need.
The recommendations, last updated by the
board in 1989, could lead to significant changes in food labeling, analysts
said, and ultimately affect the USDA's closely followed list of recommended
daily food requirements.
"I think it's going to be difficult for USDA
not to change the food pyramid (based on these recommendations)," said Dr.
Walter Willett, nutrition and epidemiologist professor at Harvard University
School of Public Health. "The top part of the pyramid is going to get
The report emphasized physical activity over
the restriction of calories recommending an hour of moderate exercise
every day such as brisk walking. That's double the amount recommended by the
U.S. Surgeon General and considerably more than what the majority of Americans
Currently, more than 60 percent of Americans
are not physically active on a regular basis, and 25 percent are inactive.
"We recognize that lifestyles of many in the
United States might make this goal seem difficult to achieve," said panel chair
Joanne Lupton, a professor of nutrition at Texas A&M University.
The report gives details of how many
calories a person should eat based on weight and activity but avoided
discussing what kinds of foods to eat. Instead, the report set guidelines to
accommodate a broad range of diets from low-fat Asian to Mediterranean fare,
which is higher in good fats.
Specifically, the report said that in the
average person's diet, protein should comprise 10 percent to 35 percent,
carbohydrates should make up 45 percent to 65 percent, and fat should fall
between 20 percent to 35 percent of calories consumed.
These findings allow for people to consume a
larger amount of "good" or monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat than
But perhaps the most drastic changes in
people's lifestyle will have to come not from eating different kinds of food,
but in their activity levels.
The report calls for sedentary people, such
as those that work at an office, to get an hour of moderately intense activity
such as walking at four miles an hour. It's OK to meet the goal by breaking it
up into smaller segments.