"We believe the committee has not sufficiently recognized the role of dietary supplements as a convenient, economical and nearly calorie-free tool for improving nutrient intake," said Annette Dickinson, president of the CRN.
Dickinson suggested that there should be a tenth overall recommendation, which read: "Consider a daily multivitamin". She believed that this would encourage the general population to remedy nutrient shortfalls while not adding to already elevated caloric intakes.
Dickinson acknowledged the importance of whole foods, but nevertheless emphasized that for people who were already consuming enough calories, and for people with limited budgets, dietary supplements should be considered to compensate for nutrient shortfalls. She concluded by urging a "dose of reality" in finding a realistic approach to nutritional improvement that would bridge the gap between what people really eat and the "lofty food patterns" offered by the committee.
The draft version of the dietary guidelines for 2005, which are updated every five years, were published at the beginning of this month, with the clearest message for the industry being the emphasis on calorie counting to manage body weight and the need to choose fats and carbohydrates "wisely" to remain in good health.
These messages were accompanied by the core theme that Americans are still generally consuming too much of everything, though most should up their intake of vitamin E, calcium, magnesium, potassium and fiber, and adults should should additionally stock up on their vitamin A and C.
The guidelines are now being looked at by the industry and comments have to be submitted to the Department of Agriculture and Health and Human Services by 27 September. The final guidelines should be ready in January 2005.
An Associated Press-IPSOS poll carried out in May found that 30 per cent of Americans consider overeating the nation's top health problem, but just 12 percent said they were dieting.