The Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) provide guidance to promote health and reduce risk of chronic diseases. However, what evidence is there that following the DGA optimizes health? Is this advice useful for individuals already in poor health?
To study these questions, researchers at the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University and Wake Forest University devised a statistical model that assessed adherence to the DGA and then related it to progression of atherosclerosis in women. Their results can be found in the July 2009 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
The study authors found that adherence to recommendations for whole-grain, total fat, and cholesterol intake were most associated with decreased atherosclerotic progression. The most important findings are that adherence to the DGA in individuals with atherosclerosis beneficially affects cardiovascular disease progression and that certain foods play a more prominent role than others. This is further impetus for current efforts to develop the 2010 Dietary Guidelines.
"The study by Imamura et al noted dietary guidelines compliance difficulty among post-menopausal women yet observed adherence may slow the progression of atherosclerosis. This observation is critical as we identify foods and behaviors to improve health and encourage compliance through education among the general public, health care professionals, and public health policy decision-makers," said ASN Spokesperson Roger Clemens, DrPH.
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