Food Guide "Pyramid" Topples -- and Why That's a Good Thing

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June 7, 2011

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The food pyramid that for 20 years has been the symbol of a healthy diet has been bumped by a circle icon called MyPlate that is more "socially friendly" and also can be quickly adjusted to accommodate people with special diet needs, such as diabetics or individuals struggling with their weight, says a Baylor University dietitian and national nutrition expert.

"This is something people can take ownership of," said Suzy Weems, Ph.D., chair of Baylor's department of family and consumer sciences and past chair of the American Dietetic Association's legislative and public policy committee.

The new icon, with guidelines approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, may be viewed at choosemyplate.gov The plate is split into four sections, each with a different color representing a food type (protein, whole grains, fruits and vegetables). A smaller circle next to the plate represents a dairy product, especially milk.

With just a mouse click on a section, such as fruits, a viewer can see numerous menu choices, Weems said. One more click, and a photo with a recommended measurement of the choice pops up.

"The plate is easily modified for individuals with unique needs and different ages," said Weems, who has used a similar model for individuals with diabetes.

An important societal challenge will be determining how recommended foods can be incorporated into the diets of those facing poverty, who often cannot afford or access healthier food alternatives, she said.

Weems noted that MyPlate "strictly addresses nutrition, not other parts of healthy living such as exercise."

Suzy Weems' professional experiences span wellness, weight management, diabetes care, eating disorders and cardiovascular health. She is a certified specialist in sports dietetics. As a consulting dietitian, she has worked for hospitals and extended-care facilities across Texas and has extensive experience in diverse geographical, cultural, ethnic and socioeconomic venues. She is a past president of Texas Dietetic Association.

Contact: Terry Goodrich, Assistant Director of Media Communications, (254) 710-3321

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