A group of 18 food organizations have formed the Back to Balance Coalition with the purpose of promoting balanced, practical and achievable dietary guidance. The coalition formed in response to public policy efforts occurring at the local, state and national levels to malign and restrict certain foods when both scientific research and the nutrition community say such efforts are unlikely to work.
The coalition also released results from an October 2014 survey of 300 registered dietitian nutritionists, nurse practitioners and physician assistants, which revealed that nearly all healthcare professionals agree with leading organizations regarding the importance of balance in food selection. Ninety-five percent agree with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics' Total Diet Approach to Healthy Eating position that "the total diet or overall pattern of food eaten is the most important focus of healthy eating. All foods can fit within this pattern if consumed in moderation with appropriate portion size and combined with physical activity."
Nearly all (93 percent) of healthcare professionals agree with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's statement that healthy eating is all about balance and that favorite foods can be enjoyed in moderation within a balanced lifestyle that includes physical activity, even if they are high in calories, fat or added sugars according to the survey. Ninety-six percent of healthcare professionals agree that dietary recommendations must consider taste and cultural preferences to help people achieve a healthy, balanced diet. In addition, more than 94 percent of healthcare professionals surveyed think that adults are responsible for their own weight and diet.
"Historically, we've seen shifts in dietary recommendations that have led to conflicting messages and confusion," said nutrition expert Carol Byrd-Bredbenner, Ph.D., RD. "These recommendations often have little to do with what Americans really eat, nor do they consider what working families could achieve given today's time and economic pressures."
In fact, 78 percent of healthcare professionals surveyed believe that an approach based on balanced, moderate consumption of a wide variety of foods would be the most effective approach to providing dietary guidance to the public. More than 90 percent of the healthcare professionals surveyed said they support non-restrictive, practical, achievable dietary guidelines that convey balance, variety and moderation while taking cultural preferences into account. More than half (54 percent) of healthcare professionals believe public policy that restricts certain foods, or classifies some foods as "bad," is not an effective way to improve health and nutrition.
"What we've been missing are the practical tools that show "how to" incorporate dietary recommendations into today's lifestyles," added, Byrd-Bredbenner. "These recommendations would emphasize portion control, listening to internal cues for satiety, and working with people on behavior-based tactics to help Americans build an overall healthful dietary pattern that takes into account the reality of how people live."
The coalition has unveiled its new website, where the public can view poll results, resources and statements on the Back to Balance approach such as the united agreement, "Encouraging Balance in Dietary Guidance" supported by the Coalition and leading health and nutrition experts. The announcement comes as the Departments of Health and Human Services and Agriculture are developing nutritional policies like the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans and new nutritional labeling requirements, among other government-related nutrition initiatives.
"Our goal is to help Americans take steps toward healthy eating by acting as an advocate for dietary guidance that is practical, achievable and that respects cultural traditions," said Betsy Booren, Ph.D., vice president of scientific affairs for the American Meat Institute, a Coalition member. "There is both strong evidence and consensus that restrictive policies are ineffective and that dietary guidance works best when it teaches people to focus on balance, variety and moderation. It must also provide practical tools that people can use, not idealistic recommendations that may be too difficult to implement when making food choices."
Through collective efforts, the coalition is highlighting key "how to" tools to help Americans follow an overall healthy diet while still eating foods they enjoy. As Americans start to look forward to setting New Year's resolutions, Back to Balance aims to help consumers build healthier diets and lifestyles.Back to Balance Coalition members include the American Association of Meat Processors, American Bakers Association, American Frozen Foods Institute, American Meat Institute, Can Manufacturers Institute, Canned Food Alliance, Food Marketing Institute, Grain Foods Foundation, Grocery Manufacturers Association, National Chicken Council, National Confectioners Association, National Potato Council, National Turkey Federation, North American Meat Association, Shelf-Stable Food Processors Association, Snack Food Association, The Sugar Association and the Wheat Foods Council.