Plate or Pyramid – Why Nobody Really Cares About Nutrition Guides

Last week, the USDA abandoned its long-favoured and iconic Food Pyramid and replaced it with a plate.

One key motivator, according to the press release, which includes enthusiastic quotes from Michelle Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, is that a ‘new generation’ icon is needed to better help Americans make healthier food choices.

This new icon is the centrepiece of the new ChoseMyPlate website which,

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.

Whether this new icon or even this website will really have anyone paying attention is doubtful – because there is one fundamental problem with all nutrition guides – they focus on nutrition!

The following brief video may explain exactly what I mean (readers may have to visit my site to see it).

In short, if we don’t solve the taste, cost, and convenience problem – no guide will change our eating habits.

Strategies based on trying to educate people to simply “eat-less and move-more” (ELMM) do not work for individuals – they will also not work for populations.

Effective strategies, both for individuals and populations, will unfortunately need to address the ‘real’ reasons why people eat too much and are not moving enough.

Edmonton, Alberta