Agriculture Department replaces food pyramid with “My Plate” symbol

From Washington, the Agriculture Department decided to simplify the symbol for nutrition with a “My Plate” visual that will replace the USDA’s food pyramid. Complaints about the food pyramid included it being “…tired out, overly complex and tried to communicate too many different nutrition facts at once….”

The new symbol is meant to be more familiar and associated with meal times. The USDA center for Nutrition and Policy and Promotion also wants to incorporate social media tools to communicate information to a larger audience.

Robert Post of USDA’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion  said the new chart is designed to be “more artistic and attractive” and to serve as a visual cue for diners.

Gone are any references to sugars, fats or oils, and what was once a category called “meat and beans” is now simply “proteins.” Next to the plate is a blue circle for dairy, which could be a glass of milk or a food such as cheese or yogurt.

In addition to telling people to drastically reduce salt and continue limiting saturated fats, the most recent set of guidelines asked diners to enjoy food but balance calories by eating less and taking smaller portions.

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Analysis:

There are a few ideas at work here I would like to point out, first being the power of visual communication. Symbols can certainly change people’s attitudes towards a certain idea. While the information displayed by the food pyramid may be similar to that of a plate, people might respond better to what they are familiar with. The plate is a much more literal suggestion of how a meal is to be prepared. We can clearly see how information can better be given when visual cues are changed.

We can also understand perhaps an overwhelming need for Americans to re-evaluate their dietary needs. I’m not sure what it says overall in terms of the American public intelligence to follow a pyramid, but still I can appreciate the change.

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