Ag Secretary Challenges Americans To Change Eating Habits

July 7, 2008 - 7:02 PM

( - Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman is challenging Americans to improve their eating habits, and his department is gearing up to help.

In a speech before a Washington conference on dietary behavior, Glickman said, "The ultimate challenge falls to the American people to take responsibility for their own health, to improve their diets and increase physical activity."

As evidence, Glickman cited a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that showed a tremendous increase in obesity among Americans. "Government can shine the spotlight and direct resources to solving the problems of obesity and poor nutrition. But only individuals can commit themselves to good nutrition and good health."

Glickman also announced a number of steps that the Agriculture Department will take in hopes of changing Americans dietary behavior.

Among those steps:

- The agriculture department will soon release Dietary Guidelines 2000, designed to provide "common sense advice" about good nutrition and healthy lifestyles for the next century.

- A national nutrition summit, cosponsored by the Agriculture Department and the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), will be held in hopes of getting Americans to commit to better nutrition.

- Next May, the Agriculture Department is expected to start a new Behavioral Nutrition Research Initiative, that's supposed to bring together Agriculture Department researchers, the academic community and the private sector to explore food choices for Americans.

- The Agriculture Department hopes to start a nutrition intervention pilot program next Spring in the Mississippi Delta.

- A new interactive healthy eating index, an Internet-based tool, that will allow users to grade their own diets and track changes in their diets over time.

Glickman said the Agriculture Department will continue to work with the public and private sectors to deliver practical advice on nutrition and health for consumers. He cited plans by Quaker Oats to begin placing the Agriculture Department's new "Food Guide Pyramid" for young children on the company's hot cereal boxes beginning in January 2000.