USDA Replaces Food Pyramid Icon with New MyPlate Icon

June 2, 2011

The MyPlate initiative has been praised across the board by the nutrition and food industry.

A new “uncomplicated symbol” called MyPlate will replace the MyPyramid icon that for years has been symbolic of the healthy eating recommendations of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The announcement was made today by First Lady Michelle Obama, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, and Surgeon General Regina Benjamin.

The new visual icon is meant to be streamlined and easy for Americans to understand. It comprises a simple image of a food plate and what proportion of a meal should be devoted to fruits, vegetables, grains, protein, and dairy.

“MyPlate is a new generation icon with the intent to prompt consumers to think about building a healthy plate at mealtimes and to seek more information to help them do that by going to www.ChooseMyPlate.gov,” USDA states.

Secretary Vilsack called it an “uncomplicated symbol to help remind people to think about their food choices in order to lead healthier lifestyles. This effort is about more than just giving information; it is a matter of helping people understand there are options and practical ways to apply them to their daily lives.”

“What we have learned over the years is that consumers are bombarded by so many nutrition messages that it makes it difficult to focus on changes that are necessary to improve their diet,” Vilsack said. “This new campaign calendar will help unify the public and private sectors to coordinate efforts and highlight one desired change for consumers at a time.”

As the first leg of the MyPlate campaign, emphasis will be put on making fruits and vegetables a larger part of the daily meal-preferably at least half of a meal. The MyPlate symbol is also supported by its website, which provides “practical, how-to” information about nutrition and healthier eating tips.

Other government recommendations, as part of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, include:

Balance Calories

  • Enjoy your food, but eat less

  • Avoid oversized portions

Foods to Increase

  • Make half your plate fruits and vegetables

  • Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk

  • Make at least half your grains whole grains

Foods to Reduce

  • Compare sodium (salt) in foods like soup, bread, and frozen meals, and choose foods with lower numbers

  • Drink water instead of sugary drinks

The MyPlate initiative has been praised across the board by the nutrition and food industry. It does not mention the role of dietary supplements.

“Time will tell if this new icon helps people to better understand vital nutritional messages of balance, variety, moderation, and adequacy,” stated Sylvia A. Escott-Stump, a registered dietitian and president of the American Dietetic Association. “If MyPlate can assist people in effectively adopting the recommendations of the Dietary Guidelines, it will be a success.”