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May 2, 2002 - Carbohydrate Nutrition News

Position of the American Dietetic Association: Total diet approach to communicating food and nutrition information


Freeland-Graves, J, Nitzke, S.
J Am Diet Assoc. January 2002; 102(1): 100-8.

It is the position of the American Dietetic Association that all foods can fit into a healthful eating style. The ADA strives to communicate healthful eating messages to the public that emphasize the total diet, or overall pattern of food eaten, rather than any one food or meal. If consumed in moderation with appropriate portion size and combined with regular physical activity, all foods can fit into a healthful diet.

Public policies that support the total diet approach include Reference Dietary Intakes, Food Guide Pyramid, Dietary Guidelines for Americans, Nutrition Labeling and Healthy People 2010. The value of a food should be determined within the context of the total diet because classifying foods as "good" or "bad" may foster unhealthy eating behaviors. Eating practices are influenced by taste and food preferences, concerns about nutrition and weight control, physiology, lifestyle, environment, and food product safety.

To increase the effectiveness of nutrition education in promoting sensible food choices, dietetics professionals plan communications and educational programs that utilize theories and models related to human behavior. Communication campaigns/programs should implement an active, behaviorally focused approach within the larger context of food choices. Nutrition confusion can be reduced by emphasizing moderation, appropriate portion size, balance and adequacy of the total diet over time, the importance of obtaining nutrients from foods, and physical activity.

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