Draft Australian Dietary Guidelines:

Are the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans a preview of our own?

Every 5 years the US government is required by federal law to review and update its dietary guidelines, which then guides all federal food programs in the US. The new 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans were released a couple of months ago, and with Australia’s draft guidelines currently under review, and a draft expected for consultation in April/May we can’t help but wonder if America’s Dietary Guidelines are a preview of our own.

The message from the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans with regards to grains is “whenever possible, replace refined grains with whole grains.” The 2005 message to “make at least half your grains whole” still holds true, however, this time the guidelines are full of reminders to replace refined grains with wholegrains. For most Americans the recommendation for grain-based foods is 6 serves a day (one American serve is equivalent to 1 slice of bread or ½ cup of cooked rice or pasta), with at least 3 of those wholegrain. This amount is equivalent to the 48g Daily Target Intake for wholegrains, as recommended by Go Grains Health & Nutrition.

A series of swap this for that options are promoted in the new 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans such as swapping white rice with brown rice, white pasta with whole wheat, cornflakes with oatmeal and doughnuts with wholegrain bagels. The concept is similar to that of the Australian Governments’ current “Swap it, Don’t stop it” campaign, where by Australians are urged to swap some of the things they are doing now for healthier choices – http://www.swapit.gov.au/

The current Australian Dietary Guidelines do not recommend a quantitative amount for wholegrains, instead stating ‘Australians should eat plenty of cereals (including bread, rice, pasta and noodles) preferably wholegrain’. If the new Australian Dietary Guidelines follow the US, it is likely the food industry will develop and manufacture more food products with wholegrains to promote the additional health benefits of these foods. If the US is a preview of our market, wholegrain foods may become the norm. The growth in popularity of wholegrain foods has been demonstrated recently in the US, as The Wholegrains Council’s wholegrain stamp reports a 25% growth over the past 9 months, now appearing on over 5000 wholegrain products in over 22 countries.

The Australian Dietary Guidelines provide evidence-based nutrition information and advice for health professionals and consumers. The National Health & Medical Research Council (NHMRC) is leading the review of Australia’s guidelines together with the Department of Health and Ageing.

The Australian Dietary Guideline review process started in April 2008, with a group of nutrition experts – The Dietary Guidelines Working Committee meeting to establish the terms of reference and review the latest scientific research to make recommendations for updates to the guidelines. The first review process for the Australian Dietary Guidelines is expected to be commence in April/May this year, with the final guidelines planned to be released at the end of the year. We are waiting with anticipation that a quantitative recommendation for wholegrains is included in the draft 2011 Australian Dietary Guidelines. A quantitative recommendation encourages consistency in wholegrain public health messages in the media and on product packs, ultimately helping consumers understand the actual amount of wholegrains they need for good health.


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