Because more than two thirds of adults and a third of children nationwide are overweight or obese, the newly available seventh edition of Dietary Guidelines for Americans emphasizes reducing calorie consumption and increasing physical activity.

The USDA’s 2010 guidelines focuses on balancing calories with physical activity. The document — issued earlier this year and updated for the first time since 2005 — features 23 key recommendations most important to improving public health. The tips fall into four main categories: balancing calories to manage weight, foods and food components to reduce, foods and nutrients to increase, and building healthy eating patterns.

The following is sampling of the advice offered:

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  • Overweight and obese persons should consume fewer calories from foods and beverages to control total calorie intake and manage body weight.
  • Increase physical activity and reduce time spent in sedentary behaviors.
  • Most people should consume <1,500 mg of sodium per day (see p. 27).
  • Limit refined-grain intake; consume at least half of all grains as whole grains.
  • Consume <300 mg of dietary cholesterol per day.
  • Consume <10% of calories from saturated fatty acids; replace them with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids.
  • Use protein foods that are lower in solid fats and calories and/or that are sources of oils; use oils to replace solid fats where possible.
  • Choose vegetables, fruits, whole grains, milk, and milk products to obtain more potassium, dietary fiber, calcium, and vitamin D.
  • Account for all foods and beverages consumed and assess how they fit within a total healthy eating pattern.