Obamas "Change" Food Pyramid for Dinner Plate Icon
The Obamas are implementing a new tactic to change American eating habits by swapping out the old pyramid-style nutrition guidelines for a whole new look. Experts hope that the new replacement icon in the shape of a dinner plate will be a more effective tool in helping Americans make healthier food choices.
A "Change" in the Way We Think About Food
The new icon, set to be revealed on Thursday, looks like a plate that has been divided into four slices representing the four main food groups: fruits, vegetables, grains, and protein. Next to the plate will be a smaller circle to represent a small portion of dairy. Each food group will be color coded and portioned according to new dietary guidelines which were released in January 2011.
Why the change? “In 2010 the White House Child Obesity Task Force called for simple, actionable advice to equip consumers with information to help them make healthier food choices,” said the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in their press release announcing the upcoming release of the new icon. According to nutrition experts and the Obama administration, the best way to do this was by changing up the visual cues used to convey the message.
History of the Food Pyramid
The first nutrition guideline symbol was released in 1958 and consisted of a rectangle separating the four food groups. This lasted until 1992 when the USDA released the well-known Food Guide Pyramid with the idea to help better illustrate how different food groups should be portioned.
Then the most recent revamp of the pyramid came in 2005 when the Bush administration replaced the original horizontal food tiers of The Food Guide Pyramid with vertical sections and recommendations for physical activity in a new icon called MyPyramid. These changes were supposed to simplify the guidelines and help send a clearer message nutrition to Americans. However, despite well-meaning intentions its over-simplified design proved to be too vague for teaching and details required internet access. As a whole nutritionists felt that MyPyramid lacked the ability to help consumers distinguish between healthy and unhealthy foods.
“It’s going to be hard not to do better than the current pyramid, which basically conveys no useful information,” said Walter C. Willett, chairman of the nutrition department at the Harvard School of Public Health to the New York Times.
The new dinner plate, not to be confused as a “pie” or “pizza” plate, will reportedly push the idea that half of your diet should be made up of fruits and vegetables. This has been one of they nutritional ideas behind the first lady's Michelle Obama's fight against obesity.
“The reality is that very few of us eat like what has been suggested,” said Dr. David Kessler, former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration to the NYT. He has high hopes that the new plate icon will have more success in spreading a clear message about the way Americans should be eating.
Obama's plate icon is reportedly costing $2 million to develop.
Several people have already been briefed on the new plate icon, but it's official reveal will happen happen via live-streaming on the USDA's website.