Thursday, June 2, 2011

USDA Replaces Food Pyramid With a Plate

USDA Replaces Food Pyramid With a Plate
June 1, 2011 at 8:19AM by Justine Sterling |
First lady Michelle Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today that the USDA will throw out its famous food pyramid (also known as MyPyramid) and replace it with MyPlate.

The USDA's food guide has had many looks throughout the years. From 1958 to 1979, the guide was a rectangle that had the "basic four" food groups blocked out: dairy, meat, fruits and vegetables, and breads and cereals. In 1979, a stacked diagram was introduced. It placed fruits and vegetables on the top and meat products on the bottom. Only a year later, the USDA conducted research for a new image after producers of the foods that were placed on the bottom began protesting. The new design was released in 1991 — and then promptly withdrawn and redesigned due to pressures from the meat industry, whose product was recommended only in small quantities. In 1992, the Food Guide Pyramid was released (see right). This pyramid was met with anger from nutritionists, who said it encouraged eating too much grain, which, in turn, encouraged obesity. In 2005, the USDA replaced it with the current symbol: MyPyramid (see left). This version did not favor any of the food groups and also noted the importance of physical activity. Everyone was happy. So why change it now?

In an interview with WebMD, Robert C. Post, deputy director of the USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, said MyPyramid was failing to capture the public's attention. The new symbol for the USDA's food guide is meant to inspire the public and actively lead people to make the correct eating choices, particularly in supermarkets and restaurants. The New York Times reports that the pyramid's replacement will be a "plate-shaped symbol, sliced into wedges for the basic food groups and half-filled with fruits and vegetables." The wedges will be color coded for fruits, vegetables, grains, and protein. According to the Times , there will be a smaller plate next to the large plate that represents dairy. The new symbol is designed to be easily understood at a glance. In his WebMD interview, Mr. Post explained that the new guide will "give people the tools and the opportunities to take action."

Don't confuse this new plate with the proposed vegetarian Power Plate that was in the news in January. This plate comes from the top and is an original construction. Only a few are aware of its exact composition.

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