April 20, 2024

Nutrition Plate Unveiled, Replacing Food Pyramid

The new design, called MyPlate, was conceived as a crucial part of Mrs. Obama’s campaign against obesity, designed to remind consumers about the basics of a healthful diet.

The plate is split into four sections, for fruit, vegetables, grains and protein. A smaller circle sits beside it for dairy products.

Mrs. Obama, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Dr. Regina M. Benjamin, the surgeon general, unveiled the new healthful eating icon at a news conference in Washington.

“This is a quick, simple reminder for all of us to be more mindful of the foods that we’re eating,” Mrs. Obama said. “We’re all bombarded with so many dietary messages that it’s hard to find time to sort through all this information, but we do have time to take a look at our kids’ plates.”

If the filled plate looks like the symbol, with lots of fruits and vegetables, she said, “then we’re good, it’s as simple as that.”

The Agriculture Department has created a Web site, ChooseMyPlate.com, that elaborates on the guidance reflected in the plate’s design. It includes tip sheets with recommendations like eating fish twice a week and avoiding high-fat, salty foods like salami and bologna.

Officials said they planned to use the plate in a campaign to communicate essential dietary guidelines to consumers, emphasizing one message at a time for the best effect.

The first part of the campaign will encourage people to make half their plate fruit and vegetables. Later phases will urge consumers to avoid oversize portions, enjoy their food but eat less of it and drink water instead of sugary drinks.

Nutritionists often criticized the food pyramid, which was first advanced in 1992, for being misleading or hard to understand. Some gave the plate cautious praise on Thursday.

“It’s better than the pyramid, but that’s not saying a lot,” said Marion Nestle, a professor of nutrition at New York University.

Dr. Nestle praised the plate for being generally easy to understand, but she said that labeling a large section of the plate “protein” was confusing and unnecessary, because grains and dairy products also are important sources of protein and most Americans get far more protein than they need.

But she said the emphasis on fruits and vegetables was a significant step.

“Americans aren’t used to eating this way, so this is a big change,” Dr. Nestle said.

The plate was created by the Agriculture Department with advice from the first lady’s anti-obesity team and federal health officials. The Agriculture Department said that it had conducted focus groups with about 4,500 people, including children, as it developed the plate.

The project, with the Web site and related educational materials, cost about $2 million. That money will also help pay for an educational campaign about the plate over the next year, officials said.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=5d64b7286108853801652f513121c696

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