USDA Launches New Food Icon "MyPlate"

By: Kay Sisk, Dietetic Intern, Case Western Reserve University         Date: 6/2/11
      Catherine Metzgar, Dietetic Intern, Penn State University
      Emily Chin, Intern, University of Southern California
                         

Today, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) unveiled a new food icon, MyPlate, which replaces MyPyramid as the government's primary food group symbol.  MyPlate is meant to serve as a simple guide to help consumers choose healthful foods.

The launch took place at the USDA Headquarters in Washington, DC, where First Lady Michelle Obama and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack revealed the new icon.  Those in attendance included food industry representatives, health advocates, educators, and chefs.

Setting the Stage: Today's Health and Economic Challenges

Surgeon General of the United States Public Health Service, Regina Benjamin, set the stage for the unveiling by sharing that one in three children in America is obese, making childhood obesity one of the most serious health challenges today.  First Lady Michelle Obama recognized that while MyPlate is "an enormous step in the right direction" to make it easier for kids and parents to make healthier choices, there is still much work to do in the battle to end childhood obesity.  She emphasized that, "We can accomplish big things when we work together for the right solution."

Secretary Vilsack noted that, in these difficult economic times when families are working hard to make ends meet, "parents want to make sure their families eat right and eat a healthy meal for every meal."

The New Food Icon: MyPlate

MyPlate is part of a comprehensive communications initiative to promote healthful food choices based on the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.  It uses a familiar mealtime visual to illustrate the five food groups (fruits, vegetables, grains, protein, and dairy) and appropriate portion size.

The main messages of MyPlate are to balance calories consumed and expended, increase intake of certain foods, and reduce intake of others.  These are in line with key messages from the Dietary Guidelines.

 Why a "Plate" vs. a "Pyramid?"

MyPyramid was considered complicated and outdated.  Secretary Vilsack stated that, "the pyramid was too complex to serve as a quick, easy guide for American families."  MyPlate serves as a simple, research-based icon that sends a clear message on proportionality and what should be on the American plate.  While MyPlate replaces the MyPyramid image, MyPyramid will remain available to interested health professionals and educators in a special section of ChooseMyPlate.gov.

MyPlate Resources

"How-to" materials and practical information for consumers and health professionals can be found on ChooseMyPlate.gov. These resources are designed to help consumers put the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans into action by establishing healthy eating patterns.

New resources include:

·         Let's Eat for the Health of It: This brochure highlights themes from the 2010 Dietary Guidelines and gives practical tips and strategies to make healthy food choices.

·         10 Tips Series: These handouts provide easy to follow tips on a variety of topics to help consumers make small changes toward more healthful eating.

·         Sample Menus

·         Recipes

Look for more resources and materials to be released soon on ChooseMyPlate.gov.  For more information on the Dietary Guidelines, check out IFIC's Dietary Guidelines Q&A.

How does YOUR plate match up to MyPlate?