This Article is About
food pyramid
vegetables and fruits
fruits vegetables
sodium intake
whole grains
adult population
health care costs
visual reference
portion control
Usda Makes Changes: Food Pyramid Is Out, My Plate Icon Is In
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Usda Makes Changes: Food Pyramid is Out, My Plate Icon is In

The food pyramid, that old icon of what we should be eating during our daily diet is being retired. According to Robert Post, the Deputy Director for the US Department of Agriculture’s Center for Nutritional Policy and Promotion, the pyramid was just too complicated for most people to follow and was not helping with its objectives. The new, updated My Plate is part of the seven key messages that the USDA is hoping that people will finally get.

The food pyramid was brought into the modern era in 1995 and then revised again in 2005. That second revision changed the divisions in the pyramid to slanted line areas which made things even more complicated than before. And, as the obesity numbers continue to climb and climb, it was obvious that something needed to change. Enter My Plate, the new icon that is meant to be a much better, clearer visual reference point for people to follow.

Nutritionists and dieticians are applauding the change saying that people eat off of plates, not pyramids. My Plate is very simple and straightforward, divided into four sections, one each for: fruits, vegetables, grains and proteins.The plate shows that the bulk of the food on a plate should come in the form of vegetables and fruits before adding in the other foods. In addition to this new, easier to understand and follow icon, there are seven messages being repeated to the people. Among these are messages of portion control, choosing healthier dairy products, choosing healthier beverages, watching sodium intake and making at least half of your daily grain choices whole grains. Simply by choosing smaller portions of the foods we are already eating, we can make effective changes.

There have been a number of complaints about the fact that it took so long to change the pyramid, even after it became apparent that it was no longer working for the American people. In the United States, over ⅓ of the adult population is either overweight or obese, costing $56 billion in health care costs every year. Children in the country are also gaining weight with one in three children over their best weight as well. In addition to the strain that the weight crisis causes the federal government, the health risks are very serious and range from diabetes to increased risk of cardiovascular disease and breast cancer.

In addition to changing the familiar pyramid, the USDA also released new, tougher guidelines for sodium intake for roughly half of the US population, particularly those who are at highest risk for complications related to high blood pressure, including African Americans, those who have kidney disease or are at increased risk of developing it and those who are overweight. Those who have known risk factors for heart disease should also slash their sodium intake as well. Those guidelines call for not only cutting the amount of added salt in the diet but to carefully read labels so that you are aware of every source of sodium in your diet.

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