Experts Available for New USDA Food Guidelines Discussion

Contact: Kate Yerxa, (207) 299-8336; Mary Ellen Camire, (207) 581-1627; Alan Majka, (207) 622-7546

Several University of Maine dieticians and nutritionists are available today to discuss the new U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ new 2010 dietary guidelines released this morning and how they might affect the nation’s growing obesity problems.

In Maine, the state Center for Disease Control reported that an estimated 64 percent of the population was considered either obese or overweight in 2009. The epidemic of obesity is growing rapidly among the state’s children.

This morning, dietitians, nutritionists, and the public will hear how the USDA proposes to help by issuing its new Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) in a news webinar that started at 10 a.m.

University of Maine professor of food science and human nutrition Mary Ellen Camire, whose input was sought in the crafting of the new guidelines, and Kate Yerxa, a UMaine Cooperative Extension statewide educator for nutrition and physical activity, are available to discuss the significance of the new guidelines and how they may affect the growing girth of the population.

Camire can be reached in Orono at (207) 581-1627 or by emailing Yerxa, also in Orono, can be reached at (207) 299-8336 or by email at  In the Kennebec County Extension office in Augusta, Alan Majka, an assistant Extension professor who oversees the “We Can” youth weight loss, nutrition and exercise initiative in Maine, can be reached at (207) 622-7546 to discuss the new guidelines.

Some guidelines history:

First published in 1980 and required by law to be reviewed every five years, the guidelines are developed using the most current scientific evidence to create nutritional guidance for the public and also create the basis for federal nutrition education programs. An advisory committee of 13 nutrition experts drafted its recommendations for updates to the 2005 Dietary Guidelines and released a report in June of 2010. The USDA can select or ignore specific guideline recommendations from the advisory committee.

According to Yerxa, the executive summary of the advisory committee’s report addresses the significant issue of adult and child overweight and obesity in America. Although the majority of adults are consuming excess calories, they are still lacking a nutrient rich diet.

The 2010 DGA report focuses on a total diet approach with four major findings from the evidence reviewed:

– Reduce the evidence of overweight and obesity by reducing overall calorie intake and increasing physical activity.

– Shift food intake to a more plant-based diet that emphasizes vegetables, cooked, dry beans, fruits, whole grains, nuts and seeds. Additionally, increase the intake of seafood and fat-free and low-fat dairy products, and consume only moderate amounts of lean meats, poultry and eggs.

– Significantly reduce the intake of foods with added sugars and solid fats because they contribute excess calories and few nutrients. Also, reduce sodium intake and lower intake of refined grains.

– Meet the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.

United States Department of Agriculture. Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion. Report of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010. Available at: