New Dietary Guidelines May Help Arkansans Lower State's Obesity Rate

Sabrina Trudo, 21st Century Endowed Chair in the Bumpers College's School of Human Environmental Sciences and associate professor of human nutrition.
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Sabrina Trudo, 21st Century Endowed Chair in the Bumpers College's School of Human Environmental Sciences and associate professor of human nutrition.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. –Arkansas has the highest adult obesity rate in the nation – more than 35 percent of the state’s population -- and Sabrina Trudo, a registered dietitian and associate professor of human nutrition in the University of Arkansas’ Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences, says that can change. She recommends following the new 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans as a way to start promoting healthier lifestyles.

Since 1980, the Dietary Guidelines, issued and updated jointly every five years by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture along with input from registered dietitian nutritionists, have provided advice on making informed choices to promote overall health, including being physically active, consuming fewer calories, and creating and maintaining a healthful diet.

“These guidelines are based upon a comprehensive review of the scientific evidence,” said Trudo, who holds the 21st Century Endowed Chair in the Bumpers College’s School of Human Environmental Sciences.

According to the most recent data (September 2015) from The State of Obesity: Better Policies for a Healthier America, Arkansas’ 35.9 percent adult obesity rate is the highest in the country, up from 21.9 percent in 2000 and 17.0 percent in 1995. The current adult diabetes rate (2014) in the state is 12.7 percent and current rates of adult hypertension are 38.7 percent (2013).

The Dietary Guidelines encourage eating more of some foods and nutrients and less of others over a lifetime. The guidelines, updated and released in January, suggest Americans eat more:

  • Vegetables
  • Fruits, especially whole fruits
  • Whole-grains
  • Fat-free or low-fat dairy including milk, yogurt, cheese and fortified soy beverages
  • Various protein foods, including seafood, lean meats, poultry, nuts and legumes
  • Oils, including canola, corn, olive, peanut, sunflower and soybean.


“By focusing on increased fruit and vegetable intake, not only are you eating increased amounts of needed nutrients, but you are also crowding out high calorie, nutrient poor foods,” said Trudo, who is part of the Bumpers College’s new childhood obesity initiative.

The guidelines also recommend eating:

  • Less than 10 percent of your calories per day from added sugars
  • Less than 10 percent of your calories per day from saturated fats
  • Less than 2,300 milligrams per day of sodium
  • As little dietary cholesterol as possible while following a healthy eating pattern.


“Processed or convenience foods are generally high in added sugars, sodium and saturated fats, and should be used sparingly,” said Trudo.

The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines remind adults to include at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity each week and to perform muscle strengthening exercises at least twice a week.

“Focusing on diet alone is only part of the equation,” said Trudo. “We must get up and move.”

Trudo recommends anyone wanting to apply the Dietary Guidelines should consult a registered dietitian nutritionist. Additional information is available at, the home of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The Bumpers College offers degrees in human nutrition and hospitality innovation with concentrations in nutrition and dietetics, and general foods and human nutrition.

About the Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences: Bumpers College provides life-changing opportunities to position and prepare graduates who will be leaders in the businesses associated with foods, family, the environment, agriculture, sustainability and human quality of life; and who will be first-choice candidates of employers looking for leaders, innovators, policy makers and entrepreneurs. The college is named for Dale Bumpers, former Arkansas governor and longtime U.S. senator who made the state prominent in national and international agriculture.

About the University of Arkansas: The University of Arkansas provides an internationally competitive education for undergraduate and graduate students in more than 200 academic programs. The university contributes new knowledge, economic development, basic and applied research, and creative activity while also providing service to academic and professional disciplines. The Carnegie Foundation classifies the University of Arkansas among only 2 percent of universities in America that have the highest level of research activity. U.S. News & World Report ranks the University of Arkansas among its top American public research universities. Founded in 1871, the University of Arkansas comprises 10 colleges and schools and maintains a low student-to-faculty ratio that promotes personal attention and close mentoring.


Robby Edwards, Director of Communications
Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences

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