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                         THE WHITE HOUSE

                     Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release                                       May 27, 2000

                             TO THE NATION

                            The Oval Office

          THE PRESIDENT:  Good morning.  Memorial Day weekend is a
special time to honor those who have fought for our freedom, but also to
gather with our family and friends at picnics and backyard barbecues,
where we take pride in serving up plenty of good food.  We should also
take pains that the food we serve is good for us.  Today I want to talk
about new steps we're taking to empower Americans with the latest and
best information on food and nutrition.

          For 20 years now, the federal government has been setting
guidelines for good nutrition, based on the best scientific evidence.
And for over six years, the government has required nutrition labeling
on most foods.  With better information, Americans are making better
choices.  We're eating less fat as a percentage of our diet; more
fruits, vegetables and whole grains; and average blood cholesterol
levels are going down.

          Yet despite this progress, the vast majority of Americans
still don't have healthy diets.  And some changes in our lifestyles are
making matters worse.  We're eating more fast food because of our hectic
schedules, and we're less physically active because of our growing
reliance on modern conveniences, from cars to computers to remote
controls.  As a result, more and more Americans are overweight or obese,
including one in ten children.  This is an alarming trend, because
obesity and bad eating habits contribute to four of the leading causes
of death: heart disease, stroke, cancer and diabetes.

          To address these challenges, experts from around our nation
will meet next week in Washington for a summit on nutrition, sponsored
by the Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services.  It
will be the first national nutrition summit in 31 years.  To kick off
the summit, today I am releasing the federal government's new Dietary
Guidelines 2000.  They're updated every five years.  These guidelines
serve as the gold standard of nutritional information.  They determine,
among other things, the nutritional content of the lunches served to 26
million of our children every day in school.

          These new guidelines strengthen the message that doctors and
scientists have been telling us for some time now: we should choose more
whole-grain foods and a variety of fruits and vegetables every day; and
we should moderate the saturated fat, cholesterol, sugar, salt and
alcohol in our diets.

          There are two new guidelines this year as well.  One
emphasizes the importance of handling and storing food safely.  The
other makes clear the enormous benefits of building physical activity
into our daily lives.  Just a brisk 30-minute walk five times a week,
for instance, can cut the chance of developing or dying from heart
disease in half.

          I am also pleased to announce today that this summer the
federal government will propose that packaged meat and poultry sold in
stores must come with nutrition labels.  This is just plain common
sense.  Shoppers value the fact that when they pick up a box of cereal
or a frozen meal, they can check the nutrition labels and see how many
calories or grams of saturated fat these foods contain.  That's the same
kind of information that ought to be put on every package of ground
beef.  Currently, fewer than 60 percent of retailers do so, because
nutrition labeling for meat is voluntary.  It's time we made it

          Providing citizens with accurate information that affects
their lives is one of government's most vital responsibilities.  But
citizens have a responsibility to use that information wisely as well,
especially when it comes to the food they provide their children, and
the habits they encourage in them.  So this weekend, have a good time.
Let's all eat well, and eat right.  Let's enjoy the outdoors and get
some physical activity -- and be thankful for the bounteous times in
which we live, and the country that makes us so proud.

          Thanks for listening.