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MyPlate Replaces USDA Food Pyramid

Old nutrition icon was criticized as being hard to understand.

Don’t call it a pie chart.

In an ongoing effort to get America to eat healthier, earlier this month the USDA ditched its complicated food pyramid in favor of a more digestible visual called MyPlate.

Built on the 2010 Dietary Guidelines, MyPlate divides a plate into four labeled sections that show what a balanced meal should look like. Fruits and vegetables take up half the plate, while the other side offers one section for protein and one section for grains. Dairy is seen to the side in a blue circle much like a cup.

The new nutrition icon replaces the food pyramid that was introduced by the federal government in 1992. Over the years since its introduction, the food pyramid was criticized for becoming too complicated for consumers to easily understand.  

First Lady Michelle Obama, along with Surgeon General Regina Benjamin and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, unveiled the new diagram at a June 2 press conference.

“This is a quick, simple reminder for all of us to be more mindful of the foods that we're eating and as a mom, I can already tell how much this is going to help parents across the country," Obama said.

The plate diagram is intended to up the nutritional ante with quick information that will help Americans make better food choices.

“The new icon is simple and easy to understand, with more emphasis placed on fruits and vegetables," Benjamin said. “This new tool can be a fun way to help individuals and families make healthier meal choices. I encourage all Americans to follow the new dietary guidelines and become familiar with the new icon because it will serve as a compass to a healthy and fit nation.”

The initiative’s supporting website, ChooseMyPlate.gov, urges portion control and reduced use of sodium. It offers other nutrition tips, such as drinking water instead of sugary drinks, and “how-to” resources.

With about two-thirds of adults and one-third of children in the United States estimated to be overweight or obese, the USDA is focusing on making what to eat easier to understand.

"What we have learned over the years is that consumers are bombarded by so many nutrition messages that it makes it difficult to focus on changes that are necessary to improve their diet,” Vilsack said. “This new campaign calendar will help unify the public and private sectors to coordinate efforts and highlight one desired change for consumers at a time.”

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