Food Pyramid Gets Personal

by Diane Lofshult on Jul 01, 2005

This spring, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) unveiled a new food pyramid designed to fit Americans like a glove. According to an April 19 USDA press release, MyPyramid, which replaces the Food Guide Pyramid introduced in 1992, is part of an overall food guidance system that emphasizes the need for a more individualized approach to improving diet and lifestyle. MyPyramid.gov, the new website devoted to the revised pyramid, is designed so that consumers can make simple choices to fit their individual needs.

“MyPyramid is about the ability of Americans to personalize their approach when choosing a healthier lifestyle that balances nutrition and exercise,” said Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns. “Many Americans can dramatically improve their overall health by making modest improvements to their diets and by incorporating regular physical activity into their daily lives.”

The new MyPyramid symbol is meant to encourage consumers to make healthier personal choices and to be active a portion of every day. The symbol represents the recommended proportion of foods from each food group and, for the first time, includes a visual reminder of the importance of physical activity.

The MyPyramid website includes the following features:

  • MyPyramid Plan: provides an estimate of what and how much food to eat, based on a user’s age, gender and activity level
  • MyPyramid Tracker: offers an online diet and physical activity assessment tool
  • Inside the Pyramid: provides in- depth data for every food group
  • For Professionals: includes a guide that professionals can use to help consumers navigate through the site
  • Tips & Resources

The MyPyramid website offers 12 different plans for consumers, along with personalized exercise guidelines. Future enhancements to the site will include portion recommendations for favorite foods and a child-friendly version of MyPyramid.

So what do nutrition experts think about MyPyramid? According to Sally Kuzemchak, RD, LD, a nutrition counselor in Columbus, Ohio, “I like the idea of personalization, because there is no one-size-fits-all approach. I also like the fact that much of the advice [on the website] is based on the new 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans and that the emphasis is on choosing whole grains and vegetables. I even like the fact that they show a figure walking up steps of the pyramid, emphasizing the importance of physical activity.”

But Kuzemchak does have a few reservations. For one thing, she is worried about special populations, like older adults and the poor, who may not have a home computer. “I’m concerned about all of the people who don’t have computer access,” she says. Currently, the USDA has only enough funding to make the interactive pyramid available via the Internet.

Then there is the matter of the shape of MyPyramid. “I find the overall pyramid design confusing, especially if the sections aren’t labeled [by food group],” says Kuzemchak. “If they are turning the food group sections on their sides, I am not sure why they are keeping the pyramid shape. Something like a pie chart or even a dinner plate with divided sections would seem to make more sense to me.”

Symbology aside, Kuzemchak is hopeful. “I think in general that MyPyramid will work best for really motivated people who spend time on the site using the features that allow them to analyze their diet and exercise routine.” I am encouraged that the site had so much traffic this week. But whether that will continue, I am not sure.”

IDEA Fitness Journal, Volume 2, Issue 7

© 2005 by IDEA Health & Fitness Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction without permission is strictly prohibited.

About the Author

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,...

0 Comments

Trending Articles

Mindful Walking

Walking can be more than just moving physically from one location to another. It can be a metaphor for your larger life journey. Things you&...

Smooth Move: Creative Additions to Consider for Smoothies

When looking for a quick breakfast or post-workout nourishment, almost nothing beats a smoothie. Whirl in the right ingredients and the blen...

Nuts and Peanuts Reduce Cardiovascular Risk and Prolong Lifespan

While there have been numerous studies in recent years touting the health benefits of nuts and peanuts, new research published online March ...

Cut Risk of Alzheimer’s with MIND Diet

Conservative adherence to a new diet, appropriately known by the acronym MIND, could significantly lower a person’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, according to a paper published o...

Yes, You CAN Develop Better Eating Habits

Analogous to laying out your exercise gear so it’s the first visual reminder you have of your commitment to exercise each day, imagine...

20 IDEA World-Renowned Presenters Share Advice on Success and Happiness

We asked some of this year’s most influential and motivating IDEA World Fitness Convention™ presenters to share the single piece of advice they would give another fitness/health pro to hel...

7 Ways to Help a Client Boost Adherence

Once a client has decided to make nutritional changes to support weight loss, you can play a key role in developing an action plan that is m...

Low Intensity vs. High Intensity: Which Is Best for Obese Adults?

The debate continues regarding the most effective exercise measures for reducing abdominal obesity and improving glucose measures.

Recipe for Health: Picadillo-Stuffed Peppers

If you don’t believe that authentic Mexican cookery is “whole” and healthy, you need to take a deep dive into Mexico: The Cookbook (Phaidon 2014), the first truly comprehensive bible...

Rice-Cooking Technique Cuts Calorie Absorption in Half

In a molecular gastronomy-meets-lab-science moment, researchers at the College of Chemical Sciences in Colombo, Sri Lanka, have discovered a...

Next