05 Mar 2014 01:31:25 MST Written by: Administrator

The Food Guide Pyramid is out, "MyPlate" is in

What we eat is a crucial part of staying healthy. Many chronic conditions, such as heart disease and diabetes, can be controlled or even prevented by a healthy diet, according to nutrition experts. Every five years the federal government, through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), issues dietary guidelines. The sixth and latest edition of Dietary Guidelines for Americans, places stronger emphasis on reducing calorie consumption and increasing physical activity. It is the basis of federal food programs and nutrition education programs.

Eating a healthy balance of nutritious foods continues as a central point in the Dietary Guidelines, but balancing nutrients is not enough for health, according to USDA. Total calories also count, especially as more Americans are gaining weight. Because almost two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese, and more than half get too little physical activity, the Dietary Guidelines place a strong emphasis on calorie control and physical activity. The guidelines are also important as part of a healthy lifestyle for entire families. Childhood obesity is a growing problem as well.

As part of the guidelines, a graphic called MyPlate, was created. It replaces the old Food Guide Pyramid. The MyPlate symbol is meant to encourage consumers to make healthy food choices and in appropriate proportions. The MyPlate icon is dramatically simpler, dealing only with food choices not with other issues such as exercise. The new MyPlate icon emphasizes the fruit, vegetable, grains, protein and dairy food groups.

The colors used on the MyPlate graphic are the same that were used on the Food Pyramid.

The colors and the groups are:

  • Orange - Grains
  • Green - Vegetables
  • Red - Fruit
  • Blue - Dairy products
  • Purple - Proteins

The MyPlate icon also makes use of the proportionality idea from the Food Pyramid. The various sizes of the sections suggest how much food a person should choose from each group. The sizes are just a general guide, not exact proportions.

The Guidelines identify 41 key recommendations, of which 23 are for the general public and 18 for special populations. They are grouped into nine general topics:

  • Adequate Nutrients Within Calorie Needs
  • Weight Management
  • Physical Activity
  • Food Groups to Encourage
  • Fats
  • Carbohydrates
  • Sodium and Potassium
  • Alcoholic Beverages
  • Food Safety

Read more about dietary guidelines and weight management in our Health Library.

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