Congressman Tim Ryan Statement on New Dietary Guidelines for Americans

Jan 11, 2016 Issues: Health Care

Congressman Tim Ryan made the following statement on the new Dietary Guidelines for Americans, unveiled today by the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services. These guidelines are updated every five years to make recommendations about the components of a healthy and nutritionally adequate diet to help promote health and prevent chronic disease for current and future generations.

“Seven out of ten deaths among Americans each year are from chronic diseases that can be prevented and treated through proper nutrition and other lifestyle changes. Our system is focused on managing disease, when we should be totally committed to preventing it. We have an obesity rate of 35% in the United States and half of our population will soon either have diabetes or pre diabetes.  We desperately need a change.  Our health care system, both private as well as Medicare and Medicaid, can not sustain this. Our current trends will bankrupt our country. 

"So, I applaud the Administration for releasing the new Dietary Guidelines and making much needed improvements for how our nation looks at nutrition as the main way to prevent sickness from happening in the first place.  For the first time, these guidelines capped the amount of sugar Americans should consume – and reinforced that we need to  reduce the amount of sodium and saturated fats in our diet.  

“On average Americans consume 70 pounds of sugar a year and 500 more calories a day than we did in the 1970s.  It is pretty clear that this is the cause of many of our problems. We cannot continue down this road. The direct medical costs associated with obesity in 2008 totaled $147 billion and diabetes in 2007 totaled $116 billion. These epidemics are shortening lives, and costing billions while doing so. That is why I am glad these guidelines emphasize the importance of fruits and vegetables. As sponsor of the Salad Bar in Schools Extension Act, I understand the need to make healthy foods more accessible for our children.

“While the new Dietary Guidelines make great strides towards improving our nation’s nutrition standards, I believe they fall short on a number of fronts. I fought to include limits on red and processed meat consumption, but these science based recommendations were ultimately watered down. We must work together to make sure the information we are providing to the American people helps make our country healthier and improve upon these guidelines.  The future financial and economic health of our country is directly connected to the health of our people."