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Thursday
Jun022011

No More Food Pyramid: Nutritional Icon Is Now a Plate

USDA(WASHINGTON) -- The food pyramid that represented a healthy diet for almost 20 years now gives way to a food plate, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Thursday.

First Lady Michelle Obama, Surgeon General Regina Benjamin, and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack unveiled the new icon. It's called MyPlate, and it has four colored sections representing fruits, vegetables, grains, and proteins. Next to the plate is a smaller circle representing dairy products.

"MyPlate is a truly simple, powerful visual cue to help people adopt healthy eating habits at meal times," said Vilsack.

On MyPlate's website, the USDA emphasizes several important nutrition messages: eat smaller portions, make at least half the plate fruits and vegetables and avoid sugary drinks.

Nutrition experts believe a plate is a good choice.

"It answers the simple question, 'What should my plate look like at any given meal?'" said Baltimore nutritionist Monica Reinagel.

The original pyramid was released in 1992 and included the four food groups stacked in the shape of a pyramid with the number of recommended servings a person should eat from each group in a day. The widest part of the pyramid shows the foods that should make up most of the diet -- breads, cereals and grains. Fats occupy the top of the pyramid.

The USDA revised the pyramid in 2005. The new symbol expanded the number of food groups to six and also included a person walking up steps on the side of the pyramid to emphasize the need for exercise.

Nutrition experts are glad to see both versions of the pyramid go. They say they were complicated, and sometimes gave the wrong ideas about certain foods.

"The food pyramid has been described by many as difficult to understand and as the obesity rates would suggest, has gone largely unheeded by many," said Martin Binks, clinical director of Binks Behavioral Health in Durham, N.C.

Experts say the new campaign emphasizes the right points.

"The main message should be that half your plate should really be fruits and vegetables," said Kristin Kirkpatrick, wellness manager at the Cleveland Clinic.

"Fruits and vegetables are packed with fiber, essential vitamins and photochemicals, which are cancer-fighting substances," said Susan Levin, director of nutrition education at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine in Washington, D.C.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio