USDA's MyPlate a Step Forward, But Shortcomings Remain, From Harvard Health Publications

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The USDA recently launched MyPlate, its replacement for the outdated and much-maligned Food Pyramid, but MyPlate ignores important issues like the healthiest choices for grains, protein, and fat, as reported by Harvard Health Publications.

With much fanfare, the USDA launched MyPlate, its replacement for the outdated and much-maligned Food Pyramid. The colorful quarters of the plate — green for vegetables, red for fruits, orange for grains, and purple for protein — are aimed at nudging Americans away from meals dominated by meat and starch and towards meals made up mostly of plant-based foods.

Unlike MyPyramid, its predecessor, MyPlate offers people immediately useful information without sending them to consult their computers. It visually represents portion sizes and sends the message that a balanced meal should be at least half vegetables and fruits. MyPlate is also based on better science than MyPyramid or the granddaddy of food icons, the Food Guide Pyramid.

But MyPlate ignores important issues like the healthiest choices for grains, protein, and fat, reports P.J. Skerrett, editor of the Harvard Heart Letter, in a post on the Harvard Health Blog. Equally important, it is silent about avoiding sugary baked goods, breakfast cereals, and drinks, as well as salty processed foods and snacks, which make up a big chunk of the average American’s daily caloric intake.

One small but interesting fact lost in the hullabaloo over the launch of MyPlate: it's almost exactly the same as the New American Plate, developed in 1999 by the American Institute for Cancer Research.

Harvard Health Publications (HHP) is the publishing division of Harvard Medical School. HHP health publications are available at http://www.health.harvard.edu.

Media: Contact Raquel Schott at Raquel_Schott(at)hms.harvard(dot)edu for a complimentary copy of the newsletter, or to receive our press releases directly.

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