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A Lot on the Public's Plate

by Diane Lofshult on Jun 01, 2005

In our April issue, we reported on revisions to the federal dietary guidelines, which are updated every 5 years to reflect current scientific knowledge. But a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing, especially when it comes to a public already inundated with conflicting dietary advice. To demystify the new recommendations and help consumers know what to put on their plates, health experts at the American Institute of Cancer Research (AICR) have issued a practical suggestion:

“It doesn’t have to be so daunting,” according to Karen Collins, RD, nutrition advisor for AICR. “Simply make sure to fill at least two-thirds of the plate with a variety of plant foods, like fruits, vegetables, whole grains and beans, and leave only the remaining room—one-third of the plate or less—for animal protein. That’s a clear, direct and effective way to eat in accordance with the 2005 guidelines at every meal.”

This approach is in keeping with the AICR’s ongoing “New American Plate” campaign, which conveys dietary advice to consumers in practical and visual terms. The organization says real-world examples are far easier for laypeople to understand than abstract dietary concepts, like number of servings per day or the food pyramid.

“We’ve found that people tend to think about their diet in terms of meals, so that’s how we package our health message,” says Collins. “We tell them [to] start by taking a good look at [their] plate.”

To download a copy of the AICR’s New American Plate brochure, contact

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About the Author

Diane Lofshult

Diane Lofshult IDEA Author/Presenter

Diane Lofshult is an award-winning freelance author who specializes in nutrition and weight management topics. She is the founder of In Other Words, an editorial consulting firm based in Solana Beach, California. Reach her at