THURSDAY, June 2 (HealthDay News) -- In its latest effort to get
Americans to eat healthier meals and fight the obesity epidemic,
the federal government has introduced a new nutrition icon called
MyPlate replaces the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food
Pyramid, which was unveiled in 1992 but had become too complicated
in ensuing years, many nutritionists contended.
"We are going to continue to have conversations about balanced meals to make this seem fun and simple and not complicated and overburdened," First Lady Michelle Obama said during a Thursday morning press briefing to introduce the MyPlate icon.
"We can do something that makes a difference, something that people can use in their everyday lives," added Obama, who has made combating obesity a priority since becoming First Lady.
The MyPlate logo suggests people eat balanced meals consisting
of servings of fruits, vegetables, grains, protein and a small
amount of dairy. To help make healthy choices, the USDA is also
introducing a website called ChooseMyPlate.gov.
The site is designed to provide consumers with practical
information on healthful eating. For example, MyPlate recommends
reducing portion size; making at least half of each meal fruits and
vegetables; making at least half of grains consumed whole grains,
such as whole wheat bread and pasta; and switching to fat-free or
low-fat (1 percent) milk.
In addition, the program urges cutting down on salt consumption
and drinking water instead of sugary beverages.
The ChooseMyPlate.gov website will also include information for
health professionals, nutrition educators and the food
"We are going to build momentum around MyPlate with a long-term strategy that includes working with community and national partners," said Obama.
Robert C. Post, the USDA's deputy director of the Center for
Nutrition Policy and Promotion, said that "dietary health has never
been more important," especially given the nation's obesity
epidemic. According to federal estimates, about two-thirds of U.S.
adults and up to one-third of children are overweight or obese. All
that added weight leaves them at risk for a variety of health
problems, including diabetes, high blood pressure and heart
Post believes Americans are looking for simple and clear
directions about what to eat. "There is a need to provide a simpler
approach to empower consumers in knowing about healthier choices,"
"It's really time to shake things up and motivate all sectors of society to promote strategies and actions that we think will empower families and children to change how much and what they eat," he said.
One nutritionist said it's about time the Pyramid moved aside
for something simpler.
"Replacing the Food Pyramid with a Food Plate icon, otherwise known as the Plate Method of nutrition education, is an encouraging step," said Miriam Pappo, director of the department of clinical nutrition at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City.
"The Food Pyramid, especially the newer vertical pyramid, was confusing at best. The plate is a universally used utensil. Dividing the plate into four compartments, along with a cup of milk/yogurt, conveys a visual display of both portion size and quantity of foods needed in a healthy diet. The plate's universality is easy for all to understand and the message is made easy to remember," she said.
The USDA's Post added that the federal government intends to
actively promote MyPlate over the next several years. "We hope this
will lead to the behavior changes, which is really what we need,"
To learn more about the new initiative, visit
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