Out with the Old, In with the New: Food Pyramid to MyPlate

By: ERINN BOON

Over the summer, the United States Department of Agriculture, in conjunction with Michelle Obama, replaced the ever-present food pyramid with an updated dietary concept called MyPlate. The new icon consists of a plate with four sections including vegetables, grains, fruit, and protein. The sections make it clear that fruits and vegetables should take up half of every meal. Next to the plate sits a glass, which is used to represent dairy, a group that a lot of people leave out. This image is a new attempt to spark public interest and inspire people to adopt healthier habits.

Unlike the pyramid, the new concept is much more realistic. It’s a way for people to have the plate in front of them and see exactly how it should be divided. The problem with the plate graphic is that is doesn’t help with portion control.

“The plate could be eight to 14 inches in diameter, it still does not teach people correct portion sizes off of a real plate,” says Lauren O’Connor, an undergraduate student worker and honors student of the Purdue University Nutritional Sciences Department. “Let’s be honest, a lot of people in this country don’t even eat off of plates with all of the fast food, and frozen dinners.”

According to the USDA’s MyPlate Style Guide, the new icon is a way to motivate Americans, inspiring them to make better choices and seek out available resources and tools. MyPlate can be very personal if people take advantage of the interactive website, www.Choosemyplate.gov, but unfortunately, many people are unaware of the resources the USDA offers to the public. “I had no idea I could track my own diet or that they had so much to offer,” says Kristin McCarthy, a nursing student at James Madison University. More people need to know that there are tools out there. Whether you’re trying to lose that freshman fifteen or maybe just searching for a place to track your daily intake, their website is a great place to research, set, and reach personal goals.

Aside from websites, other social media landscapes are being taken advantage of to educate the population. Purdue University is introducing a social media campaign promoting MyPlate. Purdue University, under the head of Onikia Brown-Esters, Ph.D R.D., is currently working on a social media campaign to educate college students about the new MyPlate icon. The research project is called ‘Mobile MyPlate’. The intervention group will receive a different text message two times each week for seven weeks. The text will pertain to the new revised dietary guidelines and the MyPlate icon will be present in each text. A pre and post test will be analyzed to see if the method of social media is an effective route for nutritional education and possible future health interventions.

This recent attention brought to health and nutrition in this country couldn’t come at a better time. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, since 1980, the number of obese children, ages 2-19, has tripled. Adults, who are the primary example for these children are even worse, a whopping one-third of U.S. adults are obese. People, now more than ever, need to pay attention to portion sizes, healthy choices, and MyPlate to take the step toward a healthy lifestyle.

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Categories: Home, Sections, Your Nutrition

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