New alternative to USDA dietary guidelines nearly twice as effective in reducing risk for major chronic disease

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Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health rigorously assessed the diets of more than 100,000 men and women and found that the reduction in risk was nearly twice as great for those whose diet met the new guidelines when compared to those whose eating patterns reflected the current USDA dietary guidelines. The findings appeared in the December 2002 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. “The current federal guidelines as displayed in the government food guide pyramid emphasizes large amounts of carbohydrates, doesn’t make a distinction between types of fat or protein and lumps red meat, chicken, nuts and legumes together,” said researcher Walter Willett, chair of the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health. “We developed a food guide pyramid based on the best available science and examined how people who followed it did over the next 10 to 15 years and we found that those who followed our guidelines had substantially reduced risks for major disease. These benefits, achieved by healthy dietary choices, are in addition to those from weight control and regular physical activity, which are also very important.”