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US launches new MyPlate icon as reminder for healthier food choices
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MyPlate IconOn June 2, 2011 US First Lady Michelle Obama and Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack unveiled the federal government's new food icon, MyPlate.  MyPlate is a new generation icon with the intent to prompt consumers to make healthier food choices and to seek more information by going to www.ChooseMyPlate.gov

“This is a quick, simple reminder for all of us to be more mindful of the foods that we’re eating,” said First Lady Michelle Obama. “It’s tough to be a nutritionist, too. But we do have time to take a look at our plates. As long as they’re half full of fruits and vegetables, and paired with lean proteins, whole grains and low-fat dairy, we’re golden. That’s how easy it is.”

The vegetables and grains are the largest portions. The protein group includes beans, meats, fish, eggs, etc. and proteins are also found in the grains and dairy groups.  Fats can be found in various forms in the protein, grains and dairy groups.

The press release includes MyPlate will replace the MyPyramid image as the government’s primary food group symbol as an easy-to-understand visual cue to help consumers adopt healthy eating habits consistent with the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

ChooseMyPlate.gov provides practical information to individuals, health professionals, nutrition educators, and the food industry to help consumers build healthier diets with resources and tools for dietary assessment, nutrition education, and other user-friendly nutrition information. Later this year, USDA will unveil an exciting “go-to” online tool that consumers can use to personalize and manage their dietary and physical activity choices.

 

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What is missing in the MyPlate icon?
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While the new US food guide icon, MyPlate is attracting a lot of interest a recent article in the National Post draws attention to what is missing in the MyPlate icon and other National food guides.

In New US food guide still missing basics, Jennifer Sygo writes "the simplicity of the Food Plate is one of its strengths." But highlights, "Much like Canada's Food Guide, the US Food Plate still treats fats and oils like they are some kind of nutritional secret.  We have long known that fats and oils play a pivotal role in human health, and make up a full third of our caloric intake.  Yet, just as with Canada's Food Guide, for whatever reason, fats and oils never quite make it on to the plate."

She also finds the US recommendation that half of the grain products we consume come from whole grains "awfully skimpy" and "oblivious to the potential dangers of white and refined carbohydrates."

Different approaches have been taken by different countries with Food pyramids, Food baskets, and others.  Is there one that is particularly useful?