TRICARE beneficiaries encouraged to review new dietary guidelines

  • Published
New dietary guidelines released by officials from the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Agriculture urge Americans to increase physical activity, reduce sodium intake, choose foods that provide more potassium and opt for water instead of soft drinks.

The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which are issued every five years, come at a time when the majority of adults and one in three children are overweight or obese. The military and uniformed service communities are not immune to this obesity epidemic. Recognizing obesity is a major health hazard in the United States, the seventh edition of the guidelines place stronger emphasis on reducing calorie consumption and increasing physical activity.

Eating and physical activity patterns that are focused on consuming fewer calories, making informed food choices, and being physically active can help people attain and maintain a healthy weight, reduce their risk of chronic disease, and promote overall health, according to the guidelines.

TRICARE officials agree and encourage their 9.6 million beneficiaries to review the guidelines and incorporate good eating habits, as well as physical activity into their lifestyle.

"The importance of balancing calories cannot be stressed enough," said Cmdr. Aileen Buckler, TRICARE population health physician. "Controlling your total calorie intake while increasing physical activity and reducing sedentary behaviors can help you maintain a healthy weight or lose weight if needed."

The guidelines include 23 key recommendations for the general population and six additional key recommendations for specific population groups, including pregnant women and minorities. New in this report is an emphasis on reduction of sodium intake to less than 2,300 mg, with a further reduction to less than 1,500 mg for everyone 51 and older, African Americans of any age and everyone with high blood pressure, diabetes or chronic kidney disease.

Additional recommendations include:
· Increase vegetable and fruit intake, especially those that are dark green, red or orange
· Avoid oversized portions
· Increase intake of fat-free or low-fat (1 percent) milk and milk products
· Follow food safety recommendations when preparing and eating foods to reduce the risk of food borne illnesses -- clean, separate, cook and chill

The 2010 Dietary Guidelines are available at To learn more about healthy diets, exercise and ways to help prevent obesity, visit TRICARE's Get Fit website at