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Dietary Guideline Envy-Are the Guidelines Greener/Better in Another Country?

The Scientific Report for the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (http://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015.asp)  has just been released and will be in comment phase until April so it will probably be late summer or early fall before the official 2015 Dietary Guidelines are made public.   Once again I see people proclaiming the benefits of Brazil’s Dietary Guidelines over those of the U.S and so I asked myself, “Self, Why Brazil? Don’t other countries have Dietary Guidelines?”   The answer is, yes, of course they do.  Here is some information about Food-Based Dietary Guidelines(FBDG) in Europe http://www.eufic.org/article/en/expid/food-based-dietary-guidelines-in-europe/

How about a  quiz to see how much you know about the Dietary Guidelines of other countries:

1.  The U.S is not the only country that uses the plate icon to illustrate how people should eat.  What other countries in Europe use a similar plate icon?

2.  Sweden created the Food Guide Pyramid in 1974 and though the U.S has abandoned the pyramid for MyPlate many countries still use a Pyramid icon. Which of the following do you think use a Pyramid?
Germany
India
Ireland
Israel
Italy
Spain
Switzerland

3. Some countries have a unique way of depicting preferred eating habits.  Match the country with the icon
China                            House
South Korea                  Pagoda
Germany                       Bicycle
Hungary                        3 dimensional pyramid

(see the answers below)  Source: http://www.eufic.org/article/en/expid/food-based-dietary-guidelines-in-europe/

Ok, now that our fun little quiz is over let’s do a reality check.  Why do we have our own Dietary Guidelines? I mean, why do we have to recreate the wheel…I mean the Pyramid …I mean MyPlate?  Why can’t we just borrow someone else’s?
I like what the European Food and Information Council writes, “… the evaluation of the nutritional status of a population is the best way to ensure that FBDG take into account the prevailing nutrient gaps and public health problems of a specific country.”  (Source: Link noted above)

A closer look at Brazil reveals  life expectancy of the typical Brazilian is 74.3 while in the U.S the average life expectancy is 78.6 and their literacy rate is 88% while in the U.S it is 99%.  They also have some of the world’s highest rates of deaths due to violence and alcohol.  It’s not that I think the Dietary Guidelines for Brazil are bad but why do we envy them?
Why don’t we aspire to have guidelines more like a country that is doing BETTER than us in terms of life expectancy?  How about  Sweden with one of the world’s highest life expectancy’s of 82 years? While cardiovascular disease is also the leading cause of death in Sweden it is less of a cause than in both the U.S and Brazil.  (www.worldlifeexpectancy.com)
So, before we start proclaiming that a country’s Dietary Guidelines are better, how about if we do a better job teaching, communicating and following our own.

Answers:
1. Finland, Sweden and UK
2. All of these countries use the Pyramid (hah, tricked you)
3. China – pagoda;South Korea-bicycle;  Hungary-house; Germany-3 dimensional pyramid

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