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White House Urges Changes In Dietary Guidelines

WASHINGTON - The White House Office of Management and Budget is urging the departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services to revise the U.S. Dietary Guidelines to include more healthy fat and stronger warnings about the dangers of hidden fats.

In a letter sent on Wednesday, John D. Graham, administrator of OMB's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, asked both agencies to change the guidelines to include more healthy omega-3 fatty acids found in fish, flaxseed and canola oil, and a stiffer warning about eating fewer trans fats, found in margarine, salad dressings and baked goods.

"The current Dietary Guidelines target only the reduction of saturated fat and cholesterol with only a brief reference to the risks from trans fatty acids and the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids," Graham wrote. "We encourage you to consider strengthening the language in the guidelines and to modify the Food Guide Pyramid to better differentiate the health benefits and risks from foods."

A number of studies suggest that omega-3 fatty acids reduce the risk of heart disease while trans fats, called hidden fats because they are not included on nutrition labels, increase the risk of heart disease.

The prompt letter is a tool introduced by the Bush administration to alert agencies to priority regulatory issues.

The Dietary Guidelines, which set the standards for school lunch programs and are the basis for food labeling, are revised every five years. A new expert committee is being formed and is scheduled to issue updated guidelines in 2005.
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