Release No. 0013.05
HHS and USDA PRESS CONFERENCE
ANNOUNCEMENT OF NEW DIETARY GUIDELINES FOR AMERICANS
With Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson
Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman
January 12, 2005
SEC. TOMMY G. THOMPSON (HHS): "Good morning, everybody. I
want to welcome you all to the Humphrey Building and thank you so very much for
coming to this wonderful press conference and to talk about the Dietary
Guidelines for all Americans for the year 2005 and continuation thereafter.
"I'm delighted to be here with my friend and colleague Secretary
Ann Veneman. We worked very well together over the past four years, and I'm just
delighted that the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and
Human Services teamed up together to come up with this Dietary Guidelines for
"And I also want to point out that I just think Ann Veneman has
just done a terrific job as Agriculture Secretary. It's been a delight to work
with her. And I thank her so very much for all that she's done, for herself, for
the Department, and for this country.
"Before I begin my remarks I would like to thank some people.
First off, I want to thank three groups of people. First and most important, the
distinguished members of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee who worked
extremely hard putting together a fine report. They completed the first stage of
this process by presenting their excellent recommendations.
"Second, the members of the public, who were then offered the
opportunity to express their insights over the last year and a half.
"And third, the scientists and officials of HHS and the
Department of Agriculture, who translated all of this work into Dietary
Guidelines that you now have in front of you. And they're easy to understand,
and they're very useful for people that want to control their weight and improve
the quality of their health and, therefore, the quality of their life. I
also want to thank Les Crawford and Barbara Schneeman and the team at FDA. They
did a wonderful job. And Barbara is here, and she did a lot of the work putting
the report together, and I personally want to thank you, Barbara, and all the
people at FDA.
"Cristina Beato, Dr. Beato and her team at the Office of Public
Health and ScienceI thank you so very much, Cristina, for all that you
did in regard to making this a reality.
"Dr. Julie Gerberding, Bill Dietz, the team at CDC, as well as
Elias Zerhouni, Van Hubbard and the team at NIH.
"Laura Lawlor of my office, who worked extremely hard keeping me
up to date on a weekly basis as to what was going on.
"And I also want to thank our wonderful Surgeon General for his
ability and capacity to get out and talk about this subject all over America.
"The timing of these dietary guidelines could not be better.
After all, January is the month for New Year's resolutions. And most New Year's
resolutions are about health. The one resolution I had about the Packers going
to the Super Bowl did not come to fruition. The rest of them though we have an
opportunity to complete and be very vigilant in working out and complying and
keeping our resolutions.
"We resolved that we're going to get the medical checkups that
we need, and every one of you should do that.
"We resolved to exercise every day.
"We resolved to eat healthier, to skip dessert, or only eat half
"And that's why the timing of these brand new guidelines could
not be better and come at a better opportune time.
"The Guidelines offer Americans achievable goals for controlling
weight, building stronger muscles and bones, and preventing chronic diseases
such as heart disease, diabetes and some cancers.
"Nearly two-thirds of Americans and you've heard me talk
about this so often two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese. And more
than 50 percent of us Americans do not get the recommended amount of physical
activity 30 minutes a day for adults and 60 minutes a day for children. And if
you want to reduce weight, you should put in 60 to 90 minutes at least five
times a week in order to reduce weight.
"So the 2005 Guidelines emphasize physical activity and calorie
control more than ever before, and rightly so. If you want to do what is
necessary to lose weight, you watch your calorie intake and you also do the
necessary work, the work of physical exercise. And that requires your attention,
and every one of you should do that not only everyone in this room but
everybody that's listening and watching and will be reading about these
"Health and nutrition impact every aspect of our lives, from how
children learn to how productive small business can be to how we maintain our
health and independence into our senior years; and it impacts our pocketbook
with the cost of health care.
"The choices we make every day of what to eat and how much to
exercise will really determine how long we live, how much energy we have, and
how healthy we really are. The Dietary Guidelines give Americans the information
they need to make the right choices each and every day.
"The report identifies 41 key recommendations; 23 of these are
for the general public. The other 18 are for special populations such as
children, women who may become pregnant, or Americans who are over the age of
"Some highlights from the Guidelines include:
"Number one, Get the most nutrition out of your calories, based
on the fact that there is a correct number of calories for you to eat each day.
If you use up the entire amount on a few high-calorie items the chances are you
will not be able to get the full range of nutrients that your body needs.
"Two, find your balance between food and physical activity.
Regular physical activity, at least 30 minutes for adults, 60 minutes for
children most days of the week, is important for your overall health. Physical
activity also helps you control your weight.
"Make the smart choices from every food group. Eat a variety of
the nutrient-packed foods to give your body the balanced nutrition that it
needs. Just stay within your daily calorie needs, depending upon your body size
and your daily physical activity. Mix up your food choices variety is really
the spice of life. Know what's in your packaged food by reading the nutrition
"Play it safe with food by keeping hands and food contact surfaces clean and
cooking meat, poultry and fish to the temperatures that will kill the germs.
"And if you choose to drink alcohol, do so in moderation. Some people or people
in certain situations should not drink at all.
"Now that we've announced the Guidelines, HHS and USDA will continue our
collaboration, shifting our focus to communicating the important message of the
Dietary Guidelines to all Americans. We have put out for the first time a little
pamphlet, 'Finding Your Way to a Healthier You' very easy to read, but very
easy to look at and be able to assist you in making the right choices. We want
to make sure that every family in America has got the opportunity to pick this
up and read it and keep it in their kitchens and let their children and spouses
be able to read it and refer to it.
"We can live by the 2005 Dietary Guidelines and be healthier for it because the
guidelines are a solid combination of research science and, more importantly,
common sense. The Dietary Guidelines are a prescription that we can write for
ourselves, fill in for ourselves, and be happier and healthier for it.
"Our medicines are no farther away than the shelves of the grocery and the
sidewalks so that we can use for a brisk walk. So let's each resolve to do what
it says in the Dietary Guidelines, and that is the consumer brochure feel
better today 'Finding Your Way To A Healthier You.'
"Stay healthy for tomorrow. We can do this. Let's add it to our
list of New Year's resolutions, and let's start today.
"Now I'd like to turn the podium over to my friend and my
colleague for four years, Ann Veneman, who will continue on with this press
SEC. ANN VENEMAN (USDA): "Well, good morning, and thank
you very much, Secretary Thompson, for that kind introduction, for your kind
words. It has been a great pleasure working with you over the past four years,
and I appreciate our friendship, and I certainly commend you for the outstanding
job that you've done here at HHS. We've had the opportunity to work together in
partnership on many projects, and I've very much appreciated the collaboration
we've had between us and between our staffs.
"I think we can all be proud of the work that both of our
departments have done to protect the public health and to improve the quality of
life of Americans. My thanks to everyone here at the Department of Health and
Human Services and everyone from the U.S. Department of Agriculture who have
worked so hard on the effort that we are announcing today.
"I'd like to add my thanks also to the members of the Scientific
Advisory Committee who are integral to the process, and to Dr. Janet King who
had the difficult task of chairing this committee. And finally, I'd like to add
my words of thanks to everyone who took the time to get involved in the process.
"New versions of the Dietary Guidelines, as you know, are
released every five years. The process that was used to develop these guidelines
was more rigorous, more science-based, and more transparent than ever before.
The new guidelines highlight the principle that Americans should keep their
weight within healthful limits and engage in ample physical activity.
"Taken together, recommendations will help consumers make smart
choices from every food group, get the most nutrition out of the calories
consumed, and find balance between eating and physical activity.
"Because we are committed to using the very best science, we as
others have done before convened an advisory panel of independent, nationally
recognized experts to review vast amounts of research. But this was the first
time we used an evidence-based approach to reviewing research for the update,
resulting in recommendations that are being made on a preponderance of research.
"The Committee held five public meetings so that everyone could
participate and understand the research, as well as the process. Oral and
written comments were solicited from the public at several steps along the way,
all of which were made public on the Internet.
"The Panel summarized its findings and recommendations into a
scientific report that was released to USDA, HHS, and the public in August of
2004. That's this report, Report of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee on
the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005.
"This report was then summarized into a draft of the Dietary
Guidelines, and then that document was submitted to a peer-review group for a
review by federal scientists.
"So that's the process that resulted in the document that we are
"The new Dietary Guidelines are part of the ongoing effort to
help Americans adopt and keep healthier lifestyles and to address the epidemic
of overweight and obesity that is affecting so many, especially our nation's
children. The federal government is committed to helping fight this epidemic and
encouraging and helping Americans to adopt long-lasting, healthy lifestyles.
"The Dietary Guidelines are an important tool in that fight.
They provide a blueprint for action, a blueprint based on the latest and best
science available. With the new Guidelines as a basis, USDA will update
nutrition assistance and education programs to help provide nutritious foods to
those who are in need and to teach about healthier lifestyles.
"USDA provides about one-half billion dollars a year in
nutrition education through the critical channels of our Food Assistance
Programs, programs such as School Meals, School Lunch, School Breakfast, Food
Stamps-- and the Women, Infants and Children or what's commonly referred to as
the WIC program. Those programs and many others will reflect these new
"But there are few opportunities to make a more significant
impact on healthy eating choices than School Meals, particularly for those at a
young age. On a typical day some 29 million students across the country eat a
balanced school lunch, and about 9 million children participate in the School
Breakfast program. The content of those meals is based on the Dietary
Guidelines, and the scientific basis of the new guidelines can provide parents
with assurances that their children are receiving healthful meals at school.
"The Dietary Guidelines will also be the basis for the new Food
Guidance System, which presents nutrition information in an easy-to-use
consumer-friendly form. Now, the current Food Guidance System is what we know as
the Food Guide Pyramid. And that's probably what is most familiar to all of you.
Together, the Dietary Guidelines and the Food Guidance System will support our
actions and programs and serve as a resource for Americans.
"The fight against obesity and for healthy, more active
lifestyles will take a concerted effort from the federal government to health
experts to the food and agriculture sectors to business leaders, state and local
governments, scientists and researchers, and teachers and parents. The Dietary
Guidelines are a vital resource for a healthier, stronger nation.
"The popularity of diet books and products which represent about a $42 billion
in annual spending in the United States shows that Americans are interested in
leading healthier lives. But they want credible, consistent and coherent
information to help them make the best possible choices.
"The 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans will provide a solid foundation to
support a healthier population for years to come.
"Thank you very much."
SEC. THOMPSON: "We'll take questions now from the press.
Barbara, do you want to come up here? Who's the person from USDA? Eric Hentges."
QUESTION: "Can you sort of compare and contrast today's
Guidelines, the ones you're issuing today, with the original 'Food Pyramid'
we're also familiar with?"
SEC. VENEMAN: "Could we just ask people also to identify
QUESTION: "I'm with BELO. We have 19 TV stations."
SEC. VENEMAN: "Great. Thank you. Do you want me to?"
SEC. THOMPSON: "Yeah. I didn't hear the question."
SEC. VENEMAN: "The question "
QUESTION: "I'm just saying, is this one what did the Food
Pyramid stress when it was initially issued? And what do your Guidelines today
stress? What can you compare and contrast those two?"
SEC. VENEMAN: "Well, the Food Pyramid is the Food
Guidance System which I talked about at the end of my remarks. And we are in the
process of developing a new Food Guidance System. Whether or not it takes the
shape and form of a pyramid again is still being looked at. We're looking at a
variety of ways to look at the Food Guidance.
"But the Food Guidance in the form of the pyramid was based on
the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. So what we've announced today is an
updated guideline of Dietary Guidelines that have additional science
incorporated into those. But you know, many of the recommendations are not
significantly different than what's been recommended in the past whether it's
eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat milk and
dairy products and lower-fat protein sources.
"I think that all of these have been pretty consistent messages. I think the
Dietary Guidelines that we are releasing today have incorporated the best
available science that we have to date."
QUESTION: "The Washington Post Food Section.
"The scientific "
SEC. THOMPSON: "Thank you for your article this week."
QUESTION: "Thank you. The former, the Scientific Advisory
Committee I see that you integrated most of their recommendations. But there is
one recommendation I was looking for that I didn't see. Perhaps I missed it. And
that was for an increase in omega 3 fatty acids, high in fish and vegetarian
sources such as flax and walnuts. And I was wondering if that is in the new
BARBARA SCHNEEMAN: "I can comment on that, that if you
look in the section on Fats, there is in fact a key recommendation. Several of
the key recommendations talk about the amount of fat that's appropriate to have
in the diet, and it recommends that most fat in the diet should come from
sources of polyunsaturated and mono-unsaturated fatty acids such as fish, nuts
and vegetable oils. And then in the document itself, in the discussion, it talks
about the contribution that fish can make to intake of the long- chain omega 3
fatty acids. So it is part of the Fat section."
SEC. THOMPSON: "And also it's in the little pamphlet as
well, so you've got it right there so you can look at it.
"Yes. Go ahead."
QUESTION: "Secretary Thompson, I'm Tom [inaudible]. I
understand there's a periodic review, an update you do, but I'm also curious
given the current concern about the rising rate of obesity"
SEC. THOMPSON: "Yes. So am I, as you know, and Ann is as well. You know, people
with the first name of Tom have an ability —"
QUESTION: "There's a kinship already. Given that concern, I'm curious if your
staffs and you felt more of a sense of urgency about this if there is a sense in
the Department that the message over the last five, 10, 15 years hasn't gotten
out, that you haven't done enough, that what has been the feeling and what's the
sense of urgency to get this problem corrected?"
SEC. THOMPSON: "Well, first off, Tom, let me just thank you for the question and
tell you that there's no question that we have to do more. And that's why
Secretary Veneman and myself have teamed up for four years talking about good
diets. We had a couple press conferences dealing with fruits and vegetables, and
we've been on several press conferences in which we've talked to people, talked
to the groups that we were addressing about the need to eat properly and to
"And you know it's been one of my causes over here in this Department. I put
everybody in the Department on a diet. I hand out these pedometers, and you
should have one. How many of you are carrying your pedometers here today? And
every single one of you should have one and be addressing how much you walk and
exercise each day.
"This particular pamphlet really puts the emphasis on calorie intake and calorie
consumption as well as calorie, the uses and makes sure that people learn how
to control their weight. It's common sense, and that's why it is so important.
It's scientific-based, but there's a great deal of common sense in it.
"And both Secretary Veneman and myself want to make sure that we get as much
opportunity to talk to the American people about the need to control your
weight. We have a real problem of people that are obese and overweight in this
country. And we all have to do a better job of controlling our own individual
weights and also being able to do what we possibly can to get this message out
"I do think that we have had a tremendous positive result in the last four years
of bringing this to the forefront, much more so than ever before. We've been
talking about prevention rather than curative diseases. We've been talking about
prevention as far as eating and exercising.
"We've gotten a lot of food companies I just, and the person from the food
section from the Washington Post was talking about food companies that are
addressing this. A lot of the cereal companies that come out, talking now about
producing their cereals with less sugar. Kraft Foods is also putting out a lot
fewer items that have high-fat content. Pepsi Cola, Coca Cola are addressing
this. A lot of companies are.
"So we are having an impact. I don't know if we've reached the tipping point
where everybody now is going to start addressing it, but I think we are close to
it if we haven't reached that."
QUESTION: "I'm Susan Denser (sp) from the News Hour with
PBS. For both of you, the Advisory Committee was rather specific on the subject
of trans-fat intake in suggesting no more than two grams a day, which would have
been eclipsed by eating your average package of McDonald's french fries. Yet it
looks as if from the recommendations that there are no specific amounts being
stipulated as to maximum intake of trans fats.
"Can you explain why there was not a specific recommendation on
levels of trans fats, and what in fact is the recommendation?
SEC. THOMPSON: "Well, Susan, first off, you know, FDA for
the first time has required trans fats to be placed upon labels. First time
ever. And it's the first indication that trans fats have been taken as a
responsibility of this Department and FDA.
"Secondly, FDA is currently reviewing what the recommendation is
in regards to trans fats. The recommendation in this pamphlet is the same as
what has been put out by the Institute of Medicine. And we're also looking at
FDA to make a further recommendation that may say that it should be less than
two, maybe only one. And that recommendation is coming.
And I'll tell you, these guidelines are not static. They're
evolving. This is the benchmark as of right now, and it's really a very good
benchmark. But FDA and the Department of Health and Human Services along with
Department of Agriculture and Trade and Consumer Affairs is going to be looking
at how we can continue to improve it and update it. And that's what FDA is doing
with trans fats right now, Susan.
"And that's why it was less general, just because that
particular recommendation will be forthcoming in the future."
QUESTION: "So for the time being the recommendation vis a vis
trans fats would be what specifically?"
SEC. THOMPSON: "Well, right now there'd be, look at the label. And two is
probably the upper limit that you should have as a consumer. Look for further
information to come from FDA and the Department of Agriculture in the
BARBARA SCHNEEMAN: "The specific recommendation is that trans fat intake should
be as low as possible. And the Guidelines also, the full document also points to
the fact that it's important for consumers to pay attention to saturated fat,
trans-fat and cholesterol, that it's not trans-fat by itself but all three of
these should be watched for by consumers and tried to be kept as low as
SEC. THOMPSON: "Yes."
QUESTION: "Val Willingham from CNN. Just to follow up, you have all these
guidelines. I spoke to someone with the American Dietetic Association. They said
these are extremely positive guidelines; they're going in the absolute right
direction. But how do you make the American public follow them? I mean, that's
really truly I mean, how do you do it?"
SEC. VENEMAN: "You know, I think we all have our ideas on that. I think there's
a couple of things to point out. One is, what I said in the end of my speech,
about more and more Americans are really looking at what is it we need to do to
control our weight? I mean, all of these diets have become wildly popular and
become best sellers. Clearly, people are reaching out for information.
"Have we been successful in the past? I mean, certainly we've had these Food
Guidance Systems, the pyramid, we've had these recommendations, we've had
Dietary Guidelines. And yet we still see increasing overweight and obesity in
this country. I think that really goes to the heart of your question.
"But I do believe that people are looking more and more at what it takes to live
a healthy lifestyle. I think people have gotten the message that people need to
take personal responsibility for what they do.
"And hopefully we can find ways to get this information with the help of many
of you because the media's been playing a very, very key role in writing about
the issue of overweight and obesity and I think now giving the public good,
solid information on what's contained in the Dietary Guidelines; helping people
understand it from a layperson's perspective, not having it too complicated, and
getting the information as broad and far-released as we possibly can and
understood by as many populations in the classrooms, for example, because we
know children's habits that are developed early on carry out through the rest of
"So I think all of us in this room have a role to play in making sure people
understand what is needed for healthy living."
SEC. THOMPSON: "Let's face it, every American is looking
for NIH to come up with that pill."
SEC. THOMPSON: "It's not going to happen! It's not going
to happen. If you want and you know, it's really common sense. Do you want to
look better? Yes. Do you want to feel better? Yes. If you do that, you lower
your calorie intake, you lower your fats, your carbs, you eat more fruits and
vegetables, more whole grain, and you exercise. And that's as simple as it can
QUESTION: "It's too hard."
SEC. THOMPSON: "Well, it is not too hard."
QUESTION: "I know it's not too hard, but for many people"
SEC. THOMPSON: "It is not. [audience laughter] You can get up tonight. Tonight.
Everybody in this room only ate half the dessert and then go out and walk around
the block, and if you're going to watch television get down and do 10 pushups
and five sit-ups. And you know something? You will feel better; in a little
while you'll be able to do 20.
"And that's all it takes. It takes some personal, you know, personal intuition
and initiative to get the job done. There's not the pill. There's not going to
be a pill. So let's face it America and that's why I think people as Ann has
said, go correctly.
"There is more information out there. But it always comes back to you eat your
fruits and vegetables, watch your calorie intake, and exercise. Lower your
intake of fats and sugars and salt and increase in vitamins and vegetables and
you will be healthier and happier and better looking. And if you lose weight, if
you lose weight [audience laughter] if you lose weight, ladies and gentlemen,
it takes less time to shave in the morning. [audience laughter] I can attest to
it. So please do it. Save time.
QUESTION: "Hi. I'm Jennifer Barns from the Canadian
Broadcasting Corporation. If I may just ask a really important question about
food health, and that is food safety. Secretary Veneman, how does the discovery
of a third mad cow in Canada, how will that affect the process of reopening the
U.S. border to Canadian live cattle?"
SEC. VENEMAN: "Well, as you know it was announced by the
Canadian government yesterday that they did find another positive case of BSE in
Canada in the same area in Alberta where the other cases in Canada have been
found. And we put out a statement yesterday, which is basically all I can repeat
today, and that is we are going to send a team to Canada to help with the
investigation. The Canadian authorities have been very cooperative, and we will
continue to investigate this process and determine if there's any different
actions that need to be taken. But at this point everything that we've put in
place remains on track.
"Now let me just say that it is important whenever we talk about
this issue to remember that we took very aggressive actions with regard to our
meat supply. We remove what's called Specified Risk Materials, the materials
that could make a difference in terms of public health. And so I just want to
reiterate that in terms of public health we believe that this situation does not
change anything with regard to the safety of the food supply in this country or
even in Canada."
QUESTION: "Can you give us some specifics on how the
guidelines might be translated into the School Lunch Program? For example,
there's an emphasis on skim or nonfat milk; and yet it's been a source of
contention for years that whole milk continues to be sold in cafeterias. Is that
going to come out now because of these guidelines?
"I'm sorry. I'm Elizabeth Lee with the Atlanta Journal
SEC. VENEMAN: "There have been in the past some schools
that have served only whole milk products, but more and more schools today, I
think virtually all of them, are offering choices to students. And you know, you
see and I've spent a lot of my time in the last year and last couple years
actually, visiting school lunch programs and looking at the schools where
healthy choices are being offered.
"And it certainly makes a difference in terms of the students
and their fitness levels and so forth. But one of the things that has become
more of a hallmark in schools today is offering nonfat and low-fat milk choices.
And certainly that would be encouraged under the Dietary Guidelines."
QUESTION: "Hi. I'm Sara Shaeffer (sp) from the Wall
"How big of a hurdle is cost to Americans, particularly
low-income Americans, eating healthfully and following the guidelines?"
SEC. THOMPSON: "Oh, I think cost is not a determiner of
whether or not you eat properly. I mean, there's fruits and vegetables are out
there, a lot of inexpensive foods that can be extremely healthy. You know, you
have to watch your diet. A lot of the high fats and high carbs are quite
expensive. And I think there's a lot that you can do with a budget from a
low-income person that can be very healthy. And you just have to shop around.
You have to look at the labels, and all of us can do that. But it should not be
a determining factor as to whether or not you're going to be healthy and eat
properly because you're going to spend a lot more money if you don't eat
healthy, in medical costs.
"And so really this is and food costs are relatively low in
America. And so I don't think anybody and with all the Food Stamp programs
that's put out by Agriculture and other things, low income individuals should be
able to have a very balanced diet."
SEC. VENEMAN: "I might add too that I think it's very important to recognize
that consumers today are not only driven by price but convenience. And to some
extent many of the high calorie foods have been also convenience foods. What
we've been seeing is a radical shift in the past few years in terms of making
some of the healthier choices more consumer-friendly from the convenience
"Think about baby carrots in bags or salads in bags or all of the healthy kinds
of choices, the announcement that Kraft just made this week saying that they're
going to actually label foods that meet certain criteria for making a healthy
"So I think a lot of it is not just cost but also convenience, and the response
has been improving in terms of how consumers are being given better convenience
choices as well as the foods that are nutritious for you."
ERIC HENTGES (USDA): "Specific to some of the food assistance programs that do
reach one in five Americans, we will be updating the Thrifty Food Plan. And this
is the basis upon which many of these programs the Food Stamps, the Food
Assistance programs are based. And we will be looking specifically at that
cost and be going through that. So that is already started and will be part of
the implementation for those specific populations where cost does affect the
QUESTION: "Hi. Libby Quaid with AP.
"Can you all talk a little bit about how much room is there in the Guidelines
for people who are wanting to do the more popular diets, low-carb diets like
Atkins and South Beach?"
SEC. VENEMAN: "If I might just take a crack at that one first.
"You know, one of the things, people say, ‘oh this diet allows you to only eat
these foods, or this diet only allows you to eat these foods’. But if you really
look at so many of these diets, whether it's Atkins or South Beach or a variety
of diets, if you go further than just the first two weeks and look at the
maintenance programs that they have in many of these programs, they're very
consistent in many ways with the Dietary Guidelines: ‘eat a lot of fruits and
vegetables, eat whole grains, keep fat low.’ And more and more you see these
very consistent messages coming also out of a lot of the popular diet programs.
"And I think you know, the consumer is searching for the answer. As Secretary
Thompson said, it's not in a pill. It's in how you make your food choices and
how you exercise. And that's the key question."
SEC. THOMPSON: "We don't want to in any way disparage or
criticize or in any way take away from all the diet programs out there because
every one of those programs serve some people and serve a need. But if you want
to get by without joining an organization, follow this diet.
"This is probably the best diet out there. And if you follow
this diet, you're going to lose weight, you're going to be healthy, and you're
going to be able to improve quality of life. And that's what needs to be done.
It's common sense. And I don't know how many more times we have to say it. It's
scientifically based, but it's also common sense, and it's up to the individual
to make the right decisions. And if they make the right decisions, they will
lead and live a very healthy and a quality of life."
QUESTION: "Sally Squires from The Washington Post.
"Could you please address the question of sodium? The report
says 2300 milligrams a day. Most Americans as you know consume sodium from
processed food. So how do you plan to work with the food industry to help lower
intake of sodium?"
SEC. THOMPSON: "It was lowered from 2400 to 2300. It's
about a teaspoonful of salt, and it's in processed food. What we're trying to do
is to not only notify the consumer, we're also notifying through these
guidelines the food industry across America. And we're hoping through their
research and their production of foods that they will take into consideration
the sugars and the fats and the salt. And we're hopeful that these guidelines
will be an opportunity for not only the individual to watch their salt intake
but also the companies. And both of those are important if we're going to
realize our goal, and that is to keep Americans healthier and be able to slim
down in this country.
"You want to add something?"
BARBARA SCHNEEMAN: "I would just like to add the emphasis
that I think is a new part of the 2005 Dietary Guidelines, to put more focus on
potassium and the importance of meeting potassium recommendations as another way
to help Americans prevent hypertension or help manage their blood pressure."
QUESTION: "Philip Brasher with the Des Moines Register.
"One, on the language on added sugar, there is much concern with
the food industry about what you were going to say. Could you say how you think
that language is going to affect their products, if at all?
"Number two, it appears to me that you switched from using
servings to talking about recommendations for cups of fruits and vegetables and
ounces of whole grains and so forth. Could you talk about why you all have
changed that language?"
SEC. VENEMAN: "Well, on the sugars, I think what it
specifically says is, you should limit your intake of sugars and fat and salt as
Secretary Thompson said. So there's clearly a recognition to limit your intake
"And maybe Barbara or Eric wants to add on exactly what has been
said in that regard."
ERIC HENTGES: "The recommendations on carbohydrates are
in two parts, and you will see a specific recommendation on increasing fiber.
Then you will see a carbohydrate recommendation upon the appropriateness of
limiting your calories, especially calories from sugar and solid fats and
alcohol that are not bringing other nutrients. So that is one of the specific
"On your questions about cups and ounces, as we look at the
implementation, as Secretary Veneman said, we're going to revise the current
Food Guide Pyramid, the Food Guide System. Our input from the Federal Register
comments has said that, as most of you know, that the servings and portions are
confusing. This is an area where consumers are not sure what is going on between
what a serving is and this portion.
"And so household measures of cups, ounces and others seem to be
the better communication tool. And that is where we are headed relative to that
SEC. THOMPSON: "And you also have to realize that FDA, we
made an announcement some time ago that FDA was going to go through their whole
labeling process to make sure that the labels are much more easy to understand
and be able to be much more descriptive as to what a person should be taking.
And that's coming, and we're updating the FDA rules and regulations as it
relates to labeling to make it a much better guide for the consumer."
QUESTION: "I'm Stephanie Woods with Nightly Business
Report. A two-part question.
"What impact do you think these Guidelines are going to have on
the food industry?
"And should there be some limits on the advertising to children,
particularly of very sugary cereals like candy for breakfast?"
SEC. THOMPSON: "I think it's going to have a great impact
on the food industry. The food industry has spent a great deal of time and money
appearing and observing all of the negotiations and all of the testimonies that
went into compiling the Guidelines. They're very attuned to what's going on
across America. And the more that we talk about it in the Departments of
Agriculture and Health and Human Services the more the food industry is standing
up and taking notice of what's taking place.
"The more that you report about it, the more that they hear or
see it on television or on the radio, the more the food industry is going to
start responding. The more that Americans are talking about having things that
are better for them, healthier for them
"I can only I've talked to a lot of the food companies. They come in and meet
with me as they do with Secretary Veneman, on a regular basis. And they're very
cognizant of the need to lower the calories, to lower the sugar, lower the sizes
and so on. And so I think we're having an impact with the food industry. And I
think this is going to be helpful.
"In regards to advertising, we have a Constitution that prohibits the limit of
speech, and we in this Administration believe very strongly that people should
have the opportunity to advertise. And we're not going to in any way curtail the
right to express people's opinions. But we think we have to do a better job,
more aggressively, you know, to tell the other side.
"We've only got time for a couple more questions. Secretary Veneman and I have
got to go to another meeting."
QUESTION: "Marian Burrows, New York Times.
"I wonder if you could further explain what you put in the
Dietary Guidelines about sugar because I note further on that you say that
'available prospective studies show a positive association between the
consumption of calorically sweetened beverages and weight gains '... and go on
to say 'For this reason there should be decreased intake of sugars.'
"And in almost every instance except trans-fatty acids you have
put a specific figure on the level that food should be consumed at. And even on
sodium, even though there are people who think that should be much less sodium.
Why didn't you put a specific level on sugars, added sugars?"
BARBARA SCHNEEMAN: "Actually if you I know you've just
seen this now, but one of the concepts that the Dietary Guidelines 2005 talks
about are discretionary calories. And if you look in the appendix, I think it's
Appendix A3 on Page 55 it actually gives some examples at different calorie
levels; that once a person has consumed enough calories to meet their nutrient
needs, how many discretionary calories do they still have left in that food
pattern, and thus what does that translate into in terms of added sugars or
"Likewise, in the description of the DASH eating guide, it also gives
information on what might be an appropriate amount of sweets that could be a
part of a healthful diet and still meet the nutrient requirements that are
recommended for healthful eating.
"So we didn't come up with some specific number, but I think we do provide
throughout the document illustrations of how a person who is planning a
healthful diet, how they should think about those discretionary calories."
QUESTION: "Is that also in the small little booklet, what you're talking about
BARBARA SCHNEEMAN: "The small booklet really is much more targeted toward
consumer outreach. We would describe this small booklet as the first step in an
ongoing process to educate consumers about the variety of messages that are in
the Dietary Guidelines. So the full report is available to everyone there on the
SEC. THOMPSON: "On-line, yes."
QUESTION: "I'm sorry. I don't mean to be argumentative about this, but the
question really wasn't answered. Why wasn't it in the list of the
BARBARA SCHNEEMAN: "We have very specific key recommendations about sugar, and
we have information "
QUESTION: "But they're not. I don't see them in the specific recommendations.
I'm sorry. I only got, I had 15 minutes in which to read this. So I may have
BARBARA SCHNEEMAN: "Let me just read for you the key recommendation that is a
part of the recommendation on carbohydrates. The first one is, 'Choose
fiber-rich fruits, vegetables and whole grains often.' As Dr. Hentges mentioned.
"The second one is, 'Choose and prepare foods and beverages with little added
sugars or caloric sweeteners, such as the amounts that have been suggested by
the USDA Food Guide and the DASH eating plan. You can find that on Page 36 in
SEC. THOMPSON: "One final question? Over here there's somebody."
QUESTION: "Lisa Stark with ABC News.
In the past there has been a lot of talk about critics about how these
Guidelines, and particularly the Food Pyramid, are influenced by industry. And
both of you have made a key point of saying this is scientifically based what
we've come up with today.
"And yet there have been some questions from others raised about why specific
limits weren't put on sugars, trans-fats, things like that. How much do you
think industry did have influence over this document? What would you say
compared to, say, past documents? Is this truly scientifically based, or were
there compromises made so that industry wasn't concerned about what you came out
SEC. THOMPSON: "It's scientifically based. Every report that comes through the
federal government has compromises put in. You have a bunch of scientists on a
commission, and they were vetted, they were outstanding individuals, they worked
extremely hard. But I'm sure they come, you know, with their own personal likes
and dislikes, their own scientific research. And there's got to be some give and
take in order to come up with a report.
"As far as the influence of outside interests in regards to corporate interests,
I think very little. I think the public had a lot to do with how this particular
report was finally compiled and completed, and I'm very satisfied with it.
"I think when you look at it, you know, no matter how you want to point at it,
how you want to criticize it, how you want to compliment it the truth of the
matter is, it's up to the individual. You're going to have to watch what you
eat, and you're going to have to exercise. That's what this report says.
"And I don't know if ABC had a big impact or CBS or CNN or Fox, but I can tell
you it's scientifically based and it's also based upon common sense.
"Thank you very much, all of you, for coming. Eat properly and exercise and get
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