A summary of the key recommendations to healthier living for Americans of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines and a weight-loss guide to combat obesity are offered by the May 2011 issue of the Tufts’ Health & Nutrition Letter, as follows:

1) Balancing calories to manage weight:

• Prevent and/or reduce overweight and obesity through improved eating and physical activity.

• Control total calorie intake to manage weight. For overweight individuals, this means consuming fewer calories from foods and beverages.

• Increase physical activity and reduce time spent in sedentary behaviors.

• Maintain appropriate calorie balance during each stage of life...childhood, adolescence, adulthood, pregnancy and breastfeeding, and older age.

2) Foods and food components to reduce:

• Reduce daily sodium intake to less than 2,300 milligrams (mg) and further reduce intake to 1,500 mg among individuals ages 51 years and older and those of any age who are African American or have hypertension, diabetes and chronic kidney disease.

• Consume less than 10 percent of calories from saturated fats by replacing them with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids.

• Consume less than 300 mg per day of dietary cholesterol.

• Keep trans fatty acid consumption as low as possible, by limiting foods that contain synthetic sources of trans fats, such as partially hydrogenated oils, and by limiting other solid fats.

• Reduce the intake of calories from solid fats and added sugars (SoFAS).

• Limit the consumption of foods that contain refined sugars, especially refined grain foods that contain solid fats, added sugars and sodium.

•  If alcohol is consumed, it should be consumed in moderation...up to one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men...and only by adults of legal drinking age.

3) Foods and nutrients to increase:

• Increase vegetable and fruit intake.

• Eat a variety of vegetables, especially dark-green, red and orange vegetables and beans and peas.

• Consume at least half of all grains as whole grains, by replacing refined grains with whole grains.

• Increase intake of fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products, such as milk, yogurt, cheese or fortified soy beverages.

• Choose a variety of protein foods, which include seafood, lean meat and poultry, eggs, beans and peas, soy products, and unsalted nuts and seeds.

• Increase the amount and variety of seafood consumed by substituting some meat and poultry with seafood.

• Replace protein foods that are high in solid fats with choices that are lower in solid fats and calories and/or are sources of oils.

• Use oils to replace solid fats where possible.

• Choose foods that provide more potassium, dietary fiber, calcium and Vitamin D, including vegetables, fruits, whole grains and milk and milk products.

4) Build healthy eating patterns:

• Select an eating pattern that meets nutrient needs over time at an appropriate calorie level.

• Account for all foods and beverages consumed and assess how they fit within a total healthy eating pattern.

• Follow food safety recommendations when preparing and eating foods to reduce the risk of foodborne illnesses.

5) Individuals ages 50 years and older:

• Consume foods fortified with Vitamin B12, such as fortified cereals, or dietary supplements.

6) Women capable of becoming pregnant:

• Choose foods that supply heme iron, which is more readily absorbed by the body, additional iron sources, and enhancers of iron absorption such as Vitamin C-rich foods.

• Consume 400 micrograms (mcg) per day of synthetic folic acid (from fortified foods and/or supplements) in addition to food forms of folate from a varied diet.

7) Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding:

• Consume 8 to 12 ounces of seafood per week from a variety of seafood types.

• Due to their high methyl mercury content, limit white (albacore) tuna to 6 ounces per week and do not eat the following four types of fish: tile fish, shark, swordfish and king mackerel.

• If pregnant, take an iron supplement, as recommended by an obstetrician or other health care provider.

The health letter offers these weight-loss strategies to combat obesity which is considered a critical public-health problem:

• Focus on the total number of calories consumed — Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight ultimately comes down to many you consume versus how many you burn by physical activity.

• Monitor food intake — To help you become aware of what and how much you eat and drink, keep track of what you eat (by keeping a journal or using a high-tech “app”). The Nutrition Facts label found on food packaging provides calorie information for each serving of food or beverage and can help in monitoring your intake. Also, keep track of body weight...weigh yourself daily...and physical activity.

• When eating out, choose smaller portions or lower-calorie options — When possible, order a small-sized portion, share a meal, or take home part of the meal (ask for a “doggy bag”). Choose lower-calorie portions based on calorie information of foods and beverages offered on menus, in a pamphlet, on food wrappers, or online. Or, instead of eating out, cook and eat more meals at home.

• Practice portion control at home — Prepare, serve and consume smaller portions of foods and beverages, especially those high in calories, which can help achieve weight loss and maintenance over time.

• Eat a nutrient-dense breakfast — Do not skip breakfast in the false belief that you’ll benefit by cutting out those calories. Not eating breakfast has been associated with excess body weight, especially among children and adolescents. Consuming breakfast also has been associated with weight loss and weight loss maintenance, as well as improved nutrient intake.

• Limit screen time — In children, adolescents and adults, sitting in front of a screen...especially television directly associated with increased overweight and obesity. Children and adolescents are encouraged to spend no more than one to two hours each day watching television, playing electronic games, or using the computer (other than for homework). Also, avoid eating while watching television, which can result in overeating, concludes the health letter.