Generations of American men and women grew up using the food pyramid to help guide their nutritional choices. Times change and so does our knowledge about nutrition and the best ways to encourage healthy eating. As a result, now there's a simpler way to make healthy meal choices about fruits, vegetables, protein bars, soft drinks, and much more. MyPlate is a new icon used to help encourage people to make healthier choices about what they eat at meal time. Available at ChooseMyPlate.com, this icon provides a simple, easy-to-understand method for ensuring Americans get a balanced diet.
By using this simple icon, men and women get a quick guide to what they should be eating and what they should scale back on consuming. The MyPlate icon divides a dish into four sections, with each section representing grains, vegetables, protein and fruits. The sections are sized proportionally to the suggested amount of each food group. Information on either side of the plate suggests foods and portion sizes from these groups.
In addition to the plate, an illustration of a drinking glass also suggests what and how much to drink. The icon has been tweaked a bit since being introduced in 2011, but it provides a more streamlined and accessible means than the food pyramid (introduced in 1992) of making food selections. The MyPlate icon also provides updated information about nutrition.
The old food pyramid advised 6-11 servings of grains, two to three servings of dairy, and two to three servings of meat per day. Modern nutritional research has found that a more vegetable-dependent diet is a healthier choice. In terms of nutritional advice, the MyPlate icon advises eating more vegetables, making them the base of the American diet. Protein remains important, but Americans are urged to reduce consumption of red meat. MyPlate also encourages sensible amounts of milk, but advises against drinking large amounts.
Obesity is a major public health problem in America, as inactivity and unhealthy eating habits have caused obesity rates to skyrocket. According to the American Heart Association, more than 154 million Americans are obese. The next generation is well on its way to having similar struggles with obesity, as health officials estimate that more than 30 percent of children are obese. Habits contributing to obesity are tough to break, so getting children to eat healthfully early in life will help them avoid becoming obese as adults. Obesity causes many serious and expensive health problems, so fighting obesity is an important public health priority.
By providing a more accessible guide to meal choices, public health experts hope that Americans will make healthier, better informed choices regarding meals. Reducing obesity rates will help reduce rates of other serious illnesses such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, and diabetes, among others.
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