In an effort to keep Americans up to date on the latest information about health and nutrition, the federal government issues a new set of dietary guidelines every five years.

But the latest guidelines released this week seem to reflect not so much an expansion of knowledge as a firm grasp of the obvious.In essence, this week's guidelines simply tell Americans to eat more fruits, vegetables, and grains, avoid fats, cholesterol, salt, and sugar.

This is news? Hardly! Instead, Washington is merely repeating advice it issued 10 years ago - and it was no surprise even then.

About all that's missing from the government's list of platitudes are such familiar admonitions as: Try not to worry. Stay out of drafts. Bundle up in cold weather. Wear galoshes when it snows. And get plenty of sleep.

In his famous novel "1984," British author George Orwell warned of a government so over-grown and intrusive that he referred to it as Big Brother. But why didn't anyone warn that Washington would also try to become Big Mother?