Strengths and Weaknesses of Government Nutrient Recommendations
Chosemyplate.gov, health.gov, and USDA.gov, are the most readily available government mandated websites that the public has access to. Starting with strengths, the easy access calculators on the USDA website make it ideal for a general population, with no prior nutritional knowledge to access and utilize. The DRI initiative was started in 1993 1. The calculator gives you an option to enter you age, gender, and weight, and then produces the recommended DRI based on the given information. Produced results come with a hyperlink next to each recommendation, further explaining the need for said nutrient and go as far as giving examples of what to include in your diet to make sure you are getting enough. Under the National Nutrition Monitoring and Related Research Act, the regulations are updated every 5 years 2. Updating every few years, allows the agency to adapt to any new research found in between that period of time. The most recently updated website even lets you explore every individual category with specific examples that it gives for every section of the plate. The website provides a separate hyperlink for a separate plan with recommendations for pregnancy, and birth up to twenty-four months 3. Recommended dietary guidelines cover the basic nutritional requirements healthy individuals, including athletes, according to a study conducted on Swiss athletes in 2009 4. Essentially, the easily accessible websites provided to the United States, appear to cover the basic requirements necessary to maintain a healthy weight, promote the overall health of an individual, and to assist in the prevention of common prevalent diseases.
There are a few faults with choosemyplate.org and their recommendations in the aspect of specifics. First of all, it does not address fat. With a brief look at the plate, you would get the impression that your diet should not consist of any fat, when in reality it is supposed to make up 30 percent of your caloric intake for sustained energy 5. Without fat, our body would be unable to absorb fat essential vitamins, we would have no visceral protection around our organs, and we would be depleted of an important source of energy. Another major flaw is that without further research on your own, there is no specification on the variation of protein that should be chosen, such as choosing a leaner protein like fish, or chicken, more often than types of red meats. A diet in excess of saturated fat found in red meat is considered to increase the chances of cardiovascular heart disease 6. Another discrepancy that stands out, is the item of dairy. According to choosemyplate.gov, it is recommended that we have dairy with every meal. With the growing number of dairy sensitivities in the American population, it is important to point out that the fat-soluble vitamins, along with calcium, can be supplemented somewhere else in the diet. Other countries have already developed an alternative plant-based beverage that replaces milk, with all the same nutritional value 7. The last point that a problem can be found is in the fact that the size of the plate on choosemyplate.gov, is not specified. Overeating is the largest cause for unnecessary weight gain in the US, and it is not estimated that one third of the population is considered “obese” 8.
In conclusion, the resources given are sufficient for someone who wants to follow basic dietary guidelines to maintain a healthy weight; however, majority of Americans are not a healthy weight, nor is the information specific enough in order for them to have the proper knowledge to lose necessary weight. Portion size, the importance of fat, and the specifications of types of protein are some minor tweaks to choosemyplate.org that might have a positive impact on the American population. USDA.gov most definitely has a user-friendly website, but also provided the most specific information for daily nutritional requirements, from macro, all the way through micronutrients. These recommendations are also ideal for an individual that is seeking to maintain their health and their weight. Health.gov would be the most useful for an individual seeking overall health, with different diets, exercise recommendations, and the nutritional recommendations as well, it is the largest base of information to well round an individual’s health.