[FOOD, MEDICINE & HEALTH]
the Indifference Curve
he Dietary Guidelines orAmericans—the 2010 ver-sion o the musculature o the nutrition policy o the UnitedStates—have arrived. The sig-nifcant investment o time and thought leadership by a highlycredentialed group o scientistshas again yielded evidence-based, consumer-directedrecommendations designed toimprove ood and ftness pat- terns and, ultimately, publichealth. While the Guidelineshave evolved since their incep- tion in 1980, the guidance theyprovide has been consistentand grounded in what mostconsumers—and stakehold-ers—acknowledge as a healthyapproach to eating patterns.As with any policy document,it is critical to examine how con-sumers have responded to theguidance. In the case o theDietary Guidelines or Americans,it also is time to explore whatadditional scientifc disciplinesmay be needed to enhance theGuidelines dialogue to meet theneeds o all end users, including the ood industry, which ischarged with bringing thesenutrition recommendations to lieat point o purchase.Currently, nutrition science is the core driver o the DietaryGuidelines. However, once thestatus o the direction driven by the nutrition science is deter-mined, the ood must be made,necessitating a key role or oodscience and technology in thediscussion. Take, or example, two key directives o the 2010Guidelines: increased consump- tion o ruits and vegetables andreduction in sodium.The intriguing questionaround ruits and vegetablesis this: I all Americans didreach the goals set in the 2010Guidelines, would enough pro-duce be available to meetconsumer demand? In a study by the Economic Research Serviceo the U.S. Dept. o Agriculture,based on the 2005 DietaryGuidelines, Buzby et. al. (2006)determined that Americanswould need to increase daily ruitconsumption by 132% to meetdietary recommendations. Theadditional demand could requireU.S. producers to more than dou-ble harvested ruit acreage to 7.6million acres (up rom 3.5 millionacres). To meet the dietary rec-ommendations or vegetables,daily consumption would have to increase by about 31%, and the mix o vegetables consumedwould have to change, requiring,or example, a 431% increase in the consumption o legumes anda reduction o 35% in the con-sumption o starchy vegetables.To meet this demand, the areasharvested or vegetables wouldneed to increase by about 137%rom 6.5 million acres to 15.3 mil-lion acres. Issues o concern in the U.S. include the amount oarable land available with avor-able climate conditions, wateravailability, adequate numberso arm workers, cold chainmanagement considerations,appropriate means o transpor- tation, and the occurrence onatural disasters that could sig-nifcantly impact harvest. Withall o these considerations, it islikely that imports could continue to increase and new technologiesor increasing the capacity togrow and harvest product wouldhave to be seriously exploited.These include vertical arming,hydroponics, and aeroponics,as well as other novel and inno-vative production methods.On sodium, the DietaryGuidelines report noted that evi-dence o a direct relationshipbetween dietary sodium intakeand cardiovascular disease inhumans has been sparse and that there is urther need or random-ized clinical trials in humans toindicate a relationship with theimpact o dietary sodium intakeand other disease states. Still, the ultimate recommendationwas to reduce daily sodiumintake to less than 2,300 mg/dayoverall, with urther reduction to1,500 mg/day among personswho are 51 and older and thosewho are Arican American orwho have hypertension, diabe- tes, or chronic kidney disease,which applies to about hal o theU.S. population. One o the great-est challenges or the oodindustry—and the ood scientistsin industry—is to develop nutri- tious products and identiyprocesses that signifcantlyreduce the sodium while assuring the saety o those products. Thisreduction will require radicalchanges in consumer-acceptablesensory qualities o oods, explo-ration o new, cost-eective technologies to duplicate theunctional properties o sodiumchloride, and even close exami-nation o ood regulations.With issues like these on the table, why has the role o oodscience in the Dietary GuidelinesAdvisory Committee beenocused primarily on home oodsaety issues? Shouldn’t consid-eration be given to encouragingull engagement o the nutritionand ood science disciplines in the examination o how nutritionscience recommendations can berealized in the marketplace, pos-ing questions about what technologies are available, howsoon they can be employed, andat what cost.The ultimate question, ocourse, is what impact have the Dietary Guidelines had on the way consumers approachood choices. Research dem-onstrates that behavior changedoes happen, albeit slowly. Why the slow pace? According toShahram Heshmet o Rensselaer
by Mary Christ-Erwin & Roger Clemens
Food science & technology, nutrition science,and behavioral economics
should all have arole in shaping dietary guidance.