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Will a Food Plate Replace Food Pyramid?

USDA/MyPyramid [dot] gov(WASHINGTON) -- The nearly 20-year-old representation of a healthy diet is about to give way to a new symbol: on Thursday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture unveils its replacement for the food pyramid.

Speculation is that the new symbol will be a round dinner plate with sections representing how much of each of the food groups people should consume in a meal.

The USDA has said the change came about to bring people's attention to the need for a healthier diet.

Experts believe a plate would be 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 of each group a person should eat 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're complicated, and sometimes give the wrong ideas about certain foods.  They also hope that in addition to being simpler, the new symbol will place a greater emphasis on the need for physical activity.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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