New diet, activity targets released

November 1, 2002

Pharmaceutical Representative

Adults should get 45% to 65% of their calories from carbohydrates, 20% to 35% from fat and 10% to 35% from protein, according to the newest recommendations from the National Academies' Institute of Medicine.

To meet the body's daily energy and nutritional needs, while minimizing risk of chronic disease, adults should get 45% to 65% of their calories from carbohydrates, 20% to 35% from fat and 10% to 35% from protein, according to the newest recommendations for healthy eating from the National Academies' Institute of Medicine. To maintain cardiovascular health at a maximal level, regardless of weight, adults and children also should spend a total of at least one hour each day in moderately intense physical activity, which is double the daily minimum goal set by the 1996 Surgeon General's report.

Carbs, fat and protein

Because carbohydrates, fat and protein all serve as energy sources and can substitute for one another to some extent to meet caloric needs, the recommended ranges for consumption of these nutrients should be useful and flexible for dietary planning. Earlier guidelines called for diets in which 50% or more of calories come from carbohydrates and 30% or less from fat; protein intake recommendations are the same. The new acceptable ranges for children are similar to those for adults, except that infants and younger children need a slightly higher proportion of fat - 25% to 40% of their caloric intake, said the panel that wrote the report.

"We established ranges for fat, carbohydrates and protein because they must be considered together," said panel chair Joanne Lupton, professor of nutrition, Texas A&M University, College Station. "Studies show that when people eat very low levels of fat combined with very high levels of carbohydrates, high-density lipoprotein concentration, or 'good' cholesterol, decreases. Conversely, high-fat diets can lead to obesity and its complications if caloric intake is increased as well, which is often the case. We believe these ranges will help people make healthy and more realistic choices based on their own food preferences." PR

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