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Authors

  1. McBean, Lois D. MS, RD
  2. Jarvis, Judith K. MS, RD, LD

Abstract

Age influences both nutrient needs and the risk for developing chronic degenerative diseases. Are the unique needs of children and older adults adequately addressed in the 2000 Dietary Guidelines for Americans? Is there a need to further segment the guidelines to make them more meaningful and useful to the public? The National Dairy Council sponsored an expert panel to help answer these and other related questions.

 

Traditionally, dietary guidelines for Americans have been directed at all healthy Americans across a wide age range (ie, from 2 years of age and older). However, age influences both nutrient needs and the risk for developing chronic degenerative diseases. National Dairy Council sponsored a 1-day expert panel, Age-Segmented Dietary Guidance: Improving Our Serve to the Public, to help determine whether the unique needs of children and older adults are adequately addressed in the 2000 Dietary Guidelines 1 and whether separate guidelines for specific age groups would make the guidelines more meaningful and useful to the public.

 

The panel discussed the history of dietary guidance in the United States and its intended goals. Also addressed were how nutritional needs, intakes, and challenges change throughout the life cycle and how these changes affect food intake. Whether behavioral goals should be part of the guidelines and how psychological/environmental factors uniquely influence the eating behavior of adolescents were considered. In addition, the panel discussed how new information about the unique needs of children and older adults might be incorporated into the Dietary Guidelines and what issues must be addressed in the future. Although the focus was on age-segmented dietary guidance, the panel acknowledged the need to consider the appropriateness of separate guidelines based on gender and ethnicity. Below are some highlights from the expert panel presentations.