Changing the Pyramid

September 8, 2010

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Photo: Courtesy of My Pyramid

For years, the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) Food Guide Pyramid focused on just that: food. It was a flat, one-dimensional view of the “perfect” diet that grouped all individuals, regardless of size or health status, into one category and focused primarily on counting calories and restricting serving sizes. When, however, the new Food Guide Pyramid was established in 2005, it took on a more complex, multidimensional look. As pictured above, the new Food Guide Pyramid focused on the utilization of vertical bands for each food group which taper toward the top of the pyramid. Not only do such bands suggest the portion of their diet that should be derived from each food group, but also that some foods within each group should be eaten more frequently (toward the base of the pyramid) or less frequently (toward the top of the pyramid).

Another major difference between the old and new Food Guide Pyramid is the presence of the person walking up the side of the pyramid. Such a graphic symbolizes the importance of physical activity and exercise in daily life.  The Pyramid suggests adults to participate in at least thirty minutes of exercise per day and children to participate in at least sixty minutes of physical activity per day to maintain current weight. In order to lose weight, an individual should not only reduce their caloric intake, but also increase their daily physical activity.

Another benefit to the new Food Guide Pyramid is its accessibility to the public and its ability to be customized. By visiting an individual can learn all about the Food Guide Pyramid, why it is constructed the way it is, and the exact number of servings of each food group and individual should consume, based on gender, height, weight, and goals. MyPyramid is a very helpful tool that is currently being used in schools throughout the nation to help children understand how to adopt and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

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