At a joint news conference, Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman and HHS Secretary Donna E. Shalala presented the fourth edition of "Dietary Guidelines for Americans." According to Shalala, "These guidelines are the gold standard for nutrition and health...and are based on the strongest scientific evidence yet concerning diet and health."
For years the USDA guidelines have been advocating moderation and variety as essential to a healthy and balanced diet, and the latest round of guidelines is no exception. In fact, one of the only changes in this year's guidelines is the recommendation of increased physical activity such as walking, preferably for 30 minutes every day. Despite these well publicized guidelines and strong motivation, most people are unable to develop a healthy diet and exercise regimen on their own because they lack the necessary expertise. Often, dieters end up in a unhealthy binge-starvation cycle of losing and gaining weight. The guidelines explicitly caution against crash dieting and instead emphasize "...slow and steady weight loss of about one-half to one pound per week for those that need to lose weight."
But now, technology brings hope. Federal employees in the Washington, DC area have recently been given the opportunity to overcome these barriers. As volunteers in a study funded by the National Institutes of Health, they are using a hand-held computer, called DietMate, to control their weight, cholesterol and blood pressure. In one six month study, DietMate guided volunteers through an individualized program focusing on slow, steady weight loss and making permanent lifestyle changes. It helped them choose healthier foods, put them on an regular exercise program and tracked their progress. A second study, currently in progress, focuses on helping individuals with hypertension reduce blood pressure without the use of drugs. DietMate implements a diet and exercise regimen that complies with the new USDA Dietary Guidelines as well as with guidelines issued by the other important health organizations such as the American Heart Association, the National Cancer Institute and the American College of Sports Medicine.
DietMate was developed by PICS, Inc. (Toll free information available by calling PICS at 1-800-343-8628 spells 1-800-DietMate.) PICS is best known for it's LifeSign Stop Smoking program, which has helped over a million people in their efforts to quit smoking. LifeSign employs a credit card sized computer combined with behavior modification to promote gradual withdrawal. www.LifeSignUSA.com
Editors note: Al Behar, President of PICS, Inc. is available for interviews. Please call Yamit Willentzik at (703) 758-1400 or E-mail