Dietary guidelines are meant to provide information to the general public regarding the food they should eat or avoid and the diet they should follow. The document contains dietary recommendations for the people in different age groups and belonging to different populations based on their gender, location and any other parameter, which may necessitate them to follow a particular diet.
Dietary guidelines are issued by an authority, which has been entrusted with the responsibility of maintaining and improving the health of the people in the country or a group of countries. The guidelines may be in the form of text or graphical elements. The use of graphical elements is done to represent the message contained in the guidelines in such a way that they are easily understood and retained in the memory of the reader. The food pyramid is a common example of graphical elements used in the dietary guidelines.
Dietary guidelines may include certain short-term recommendations depending on the disease prevalent during the particular time period or depending on the recent outbreak of an infectious disease. For example; dietary guidelines may be issued before the monsoon to warn the people against eating certain foods.
Dietary guidelines may be directed at the people suffering from some diseases. For example, the public health authorities may issue a document educating the patients with diabetes, or hypertension about the foods they should eat and avoid.
The aim of dietary guidelines is to give an idea to the general public about the importance of a balanced diet and control the incidence of diseases that can arise due to a faulty or imbalanced diet.