WASHINGTON, D.C. - Americans need to cut salt, eat less but at the same time eat more fruits and vegetables, the Obama administration said on Monday in releasing its latest set of dietary guidelines.
They also advise Americans to drink water instead of sugary drinks, cut fat and switch to whole grains.
The "bottom line" is that Americans are too fat, said Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack in releasing the guidelines.
More than one-third of children and two-thirds of adults in the United States are overweight or obese.
"It's important to have guidelines that will help us deal with that issue of obesity," Vilsack said. "These new and improved dietary recommendations give individuals the information to make thoughtful choices of healthier foods in the right portions and to complement those choices with physical activity."
The new dietary guidelines include 23 key recommendations for the general public, and six for specific groups such as pregnant women. General recommendations include avoiding oversized portions, choosing foods with lower sodium, and eating more fruits and vegetables.
The guidelines are based on a review of scientific literature and form the basis of nutrition education programs, federal programs such as school meals and Meals on Wheels for seniors, and inform advice provided by health professionals, the agriculture department said.
First lady Michelle Obama has been leading initiatives to help U.S. schoolchildren slim down and eat more healthily.
Grocers and food and drink makers last week announced a new system of displaying nutritional information on packages. The "Nutrition Keys" display information about calories, saturated fat, sodium, total sugars, and other nutrients.
Critics say the industry labels fail to distinguish good and bad nutrients in products.
(Reporting by Emily Stephenson; Editing by Maggie Fox and Jackie Frank)