The ultimate value and success of the new "MyPyramid" Food Guidance System graphic will be measured by whether it can serve as an effective tool to help people eat according to the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Time will tell if MyPyramid will convey to consumers the vital nutritional messages of balance, variety, moderation and adequacy. If MyPyramid can assist people in effectively adopting the recommendations of the Dietary Guidelines, it will be a great success.
As the American Dietetic Association recommended to the USDA last year, the iconic and widely known shape of the Food Guide Pyramid has been retained as the government's primary graphical symbol of variety, proportion and moderation in making good nutritional choices. ADA recommended that the educational messages within and accompanying the Pyramid should be updated to improve consumer understanding, which has also been done.
ADA believes no one graphic symbol can or should serve as a stand-alone consumer nutrition education tool. Many surveys over the years, including ADA's own 1997 nutrition trends survey, found most people recognize the Food Guide Pyramid. The problem is that few people really understood the Pyramid and even fewer followed it. What is needed is what the USDA announced today: a Food Guidance System that includes a graphic symbol plus consumer messages and motivational and educational tools that work together to guide people toward healthy food choices.
The 2005 Dietary Guidelines emphasize greater consumption of fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products and whole grains – foods that are naturally high in nutrients and low in calories. That is consistent with ADA's positions and consumer messages that emphasize the individual's total diet, or overall pattern of food consumed. ADA and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans agree that the keys are:
- Take a personalized approach to dietary advice and weight management, recognizing one size does not fit all.
- Eat a variety of foods from every group in balance and in moderation.
- Pay attention to calorie consumption.
- Achieve a balance between food and regular physical activity.
The American Dietetic Association was deeply involved with the development of the Dietary Guidelines, and we will be just as involved in using them to set the nation's policy directions in nutrition programs, research, education, food assistance, labeling and promotion. On an individual level, our members will incorporate MyPyramid and its accompanying materials into our client counseling, patient care and consumer education.
The food and nutrition experts of the American Dietetic Association are committed to helping people understand and apply the recommendations of the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans in their daily lives.
Editor's note: Food and nutrition experts from the American Dietetic Association are available for media interviews on the new MyPyramid Food Guidance System. Call 800/877-1600, ext. 4769, 4894 or 4822.
The American Dietetic Association is the nation's largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. With nearly 65,000 members, the Chicago-based ADA serves the public by promoting optimal health and well-being for all people. Visit ADA at www.eatright.org.