New "My Pyramid" is Missed Opportunity, Says CSPI

Statement of CSPI Nutrition Policy Director Margo G. Wootan


The Dietary Guidelines unveiled in January were the strongest ever, but the new pyramid doesn't clearly communicate that advice to the public. By making "one size doesn't fit all" the mantra, and by replacing one pyramid with 12, the government has made this advice more complicated than it needs to be. There are simple key principles about healthy eating that truly do work for all Americans, and those could have been represented on one symbol.

Such a symbol would have made it immediately clear that we should be eating more fruits and vegetables; low-fat and fat-free dairy products as opposed to cheese and 2% milk; chicken and lean meats as opposed to hamburgers; whole grains as opposed to refined grains; and for everyone, less soda and less salt. But because one needs to go to a web site to get any of that detail, this new symbol is a missed opportunity. USDA seems to have bent over backward to avoid upsetting any particular commodity group or food company by not showing any foods that Americans should eat less of.

The government should be using the dietary guidelines as a blueprint for national action and the basis for sound nutrition policies. How can parents effectively guide their kids' food choices when so much soda and junk food is for sale in America's schools, and with so many billions of dollars in junk food advertising aimed squarely at kids? How can people balance calories in with energy out without calorie counts on fast-food menu boards?

Whatever the content of the pyramid, the government does very little to help Americans eat accordingly. If the government does with this pyramid what it did with the last one, which is to say very little, then we can expect a similar result: Americans will become fatter and will remain just as vulnerable to heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.

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