Nutrition in the Round
Most of the early responses to the new nutritional food plate graphic replacing the longstanding MyPyramid food icon have been positive. Some of the usual suspects were critical, of course. But overall, with some reservations due to the impossibility of creating a perfect formula, the reaction has been good.
If you haven’t seen or heard about it, MyPlate is round and comprises four sections representing grains, vegetables, fruit and protein. The first two are somewhat larger than the latter. On the side is a smaller circle for dairy.
Some of the features are subtle and need to be clarified (as with the pyramid) by checking an explanatory website for details of what each element can contain.
Some disagree not just with the content but the mere existence of dietary guidance, seeing it as an infringement of their individual rights. Fox News‘ Greg Gutfield reckons “chubby kids represent a superior society” and has an ugly name for those who disagree.
The Los Angeles Times reported that researcher Walter Willett, chair of the nutrition department at Harvard School of Public Health, objected to the implication that dairy should be part of every meal (as did, they said, vegetarian proponents, The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine). Mr. Willett also suggested information on the relative benefits of dietary fats and different protein sources would be useful.
At the launch, Michelle Obama called it “a quick, simple reminder for all of us to be more mindful of the foods we’re eating,” describing a plate as both useful and simple, but conceding it “isn’t the only thing we should be doing.”
U.S. Surgeon General Regina M. Benjamin’s statement reported in The Boston Globe explained that the priority is to simplify advice to “help individuals and families make healthier meal choices.”
Joan Salge Blake, a registered dietician at Boston University, explained to the Globe, “Eating more produce … fills you up before it fills you out.”
Reuters cited Kathryn Strong of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, who said, “If you’re looking at a plate, that’s something you can directly translate to whatever you’re about to eat.”
So … advice, recommendations, guidelines, but not really demands, instructions or requirements. It’s still up to us.
- Farewell, food pyramid – USDA is now serving up nutritional advice on My Plate – The Los Angeles Times
- The new food plate: a family dinner table talk – Huffington Post
- Farewell, food pyramid – Fox News
- New food plate icon: will it change how you eat – The Boston Globe
- Pyramid tossed, dinner plate is new US meals plan – Reuters
Discussion Questions: Is the new food plate icon an improvement over the pyramid? Will it have any more influence on eating habits?