WASHINGTON—The expert report by the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee released today are drawing praise from nutrition experts with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine for acknowledging the power of plant-based diets to fight obesity and reduce the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and other common health problems. This expert report will be evaluated and used to shape the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which not only guides individual choices, but drives food and nutrition policy shaping a variety of landscapes from school lunch to the SNAP program.
The report highlights the most up-to-date and thoroughly reviewed research available and cites evidence to highlight the benefits of a plant-based eating pattern, showing that meatless diets are associated with lower body weights, lower blood pressure, and lower risk of cardiovascular disease. In regards to these health benefits, the report notes that “the major findings regarding sustainable diets were that a diet higher in plant-based foods, such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds, and lower in calories and animal based foods is more health promoting and is associated with less environmental impact than is the current U.S. diet.”
The Dietary Guidelines are reviewed and renewed every five years and offer Americans science-based advice on food and exercise choices. Previous advisory panels have noted the value of vegetarian diets, but this latest report is the first to specifically recommend them.
“The guidelines echo the latest research that shows plant-based diets are the key for disease prevention,” notes Cameron Wells, M.P.H., R.D., acting director of nutrition education for the Physicians Committee. “We’re moving away from micronutrients and focusing on sustainable eating patterns that promote weight maintenance, lower cholesterol, and stabilize blood sugar – and the best way to do that is by encouraging plant-based dietary patters.”
The guidelines encourage increasing fiber intake as one way to prevent heart disease, colorectal and other cancers, type 2 diabetes, and obesity. Recent studies show that overweight adults who adopt high-fiber, plant-based vegan diets lose an average of 10 pounds, without counting calories, measuring portions, or adopting new exercise regimens.
A report released in September by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development found that Americans are the heaviest among 33 of the world’s richest countries. The report warned that 75 percent of Americans will be overweight by 2020 unless comprehensive steps are taken to fight the obesity epidemic.
The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee reports that half of adults who are of a normal weight have at least one cardiometabolic risk factor. This number increases to 70 percent for those who are overweight and to 75 percent for those who are obese.
This past year the Physicians Committee published studies that find in addition to weight loss, plant-based eating patterns improve blood pressure, blood sugar, and reduce the risk for certain forms of cancer and dementia.
To show consumers how to put these recommendations into practice, the Physician Committee created the Sustainable Power Plate, which presents whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and legumes as dietary staples, and water as the dietary beverage of choice.
The Sustainable Power Plate supports the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee’s findings, which rests on dozens of scientific studies showing that plant-based eating habits are associated with lower obesity rates and a reduced risk of heart disease, hypertension, and type 2 diabetes.
To speak with Cameron Wells, M.P.H., R.D., or to request a copy of the Sustainable Plate, please contact Jeanne Stuart McVey, Media Relations Manager, 202-527-7316, 202-686-2210, ext. 316.
Founded in 1985, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a nonprofit health organization that promotes preventive medicine, conducts clinical research, and encourages higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in research and medical training.