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What Will the Next Food Pyramid Look Like

Armen Hareyan's picture

Every five years, the Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture jointly issue the U.S. Dietary Guidelines, including the food pyramid.

The food pyramid is based on the USDA's research on what foods Americans eat, what nutrients are in these foods, and how to make food choices that promote good health. Many nutrition experts are expecting some significant changes to the familiar food pyramid in the next set of guidelines, scheduled to be released in 2005.

Elisabetta Politi, nutrition manager at the Duke University Medical Center's Diet and Fitness Center, says there may actually be multiple pyramids, customized to address specific nutrition needs.

"The pyramids are going to be tailored to the individual," says Politi. "A sedentary 70-year-old woman doesn't need to have the same recommendation as a very active 30-year-old man. I expect there will be changes based on level of activity, age and gender."

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Politi expects some of the changes to also reflect the growing popularity of low-carbohydrate programs, such as the Atkins and South Beach diets. "Probably the recommendations are going to be geared toward carbohydrates, but we really cannot put carbohydrates all in the same food group. Probably the base of the pyramid is going to be changed. It seems there is consensus in the scientific community that, although grains and starches are part of a healthy diet, we don't need as many as the food pyramid currently indicates."

Politi also thinks the number of recommended daily calories may be lowered, due to America's obesity crisis.

"What has to change is the eating habits of Americans," says Politi. "It's a very complex issue. The market forces are really strong. They push consumers in one direction and, unfortunately, fruits and vegetables are not promoted enough."


The source of this article is http://www.dukehealth.org