I have watched the USDA change their graphic over the years due to pressure from the various food industries who felt their food placement was prejudicial, nutritionists who felt it encouraged eating too many grains, and others who though exercise should be a part of the food pyramid graphic.
First lady Michelle Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today that the USDA will no long use the famous food pyramid. You can take a look at the new "MyPlate" graphic at http://www.choosemyplate.gov. What do you think? Will your students grasp an understanding of the food groups?
I saw the new plate graphic yesterday for the first time. I'll be interested to see what nutritionists think about it. I'm really not sure that it's any clearer than the food pyramid. I do think it's an interesting idea to include exercise as part of the picture, although I'm not sure how that would be done in an effective way. It's certainly a challenge for today's nutrition experts!
I had a conversation yesterday with a friend of mine who is a food historian about the new graphic. She said that she thought it was pretty effective--she's already thinking about having fruits and vegetables as half of any meal, based on the design. In her former life she was a graphic designer, and from that perspective she felt that having dairy off the plate made it seem optional (which to her it is; she gave up eating dairy a long time ago), though that's not how I took it. She also attended the press conference yesterday and said a nutritionist there noted that while the overall graphic was useful, she thought the protein section--separated from the other food types--could be confusing or misleading, given that there are certainly dairy products, grains, and vegetables with protein (and my friend thought it suggests that Americans must eat meat, or more meat, which isn't necessarily true). This resonated with me and I'm wondering if the protein issue will be confusing to children, or how many kids who are vegetarian will be clamoring to help clarify! I'm sure my cousin, who stopped eating meat at age 6, would have been eager to explain it to her classmates!
National Museum of American History
I'm married to a chef who couldn't put together a nutritionally balanced meal if he tried. I'll be watching his response to my posting and review of the My Plate graphic. Representing types of foods on a plate is easier than trying to create portion ideas from the previous pyramids.
From a global nutrition perspective, this still shows significant biases toward North American agricultural practice and subsidies, along with North American (especially Midwestern) eating habits. Imagine teaching this in a multi-cultural community where rice and vegetables and only minimal amounts of meat and protein show up in the traditional diets. Maybe I'll use it for an activity on biases (part of information literacy skills) embedded in a health activity.
Wow!... That's a fantastic idea. Talk about thinking" outside the plate" and really getting perspective on global dependence and economics. Your creative concept opens up entire new vistas for many disciplines. Just thinking about my own area of concentration, what a good opportunity to incorpoate discussions on free trade and subsidies.
Thanks so much
Having joined Weight Watchers in December 2010, I noticed the new graphic is on target with their suggestions for eating from the various food groups. Their message is portion control in addition to good balanced choices.
I like the plate graphic since that is how we view our food. It makes more sense to me than the food pyramid. However, I agree with Naomi that the eating habits of vegetarians are not addressed well. Both of my daughters have been vegetarians for over 15 years, and they eat more fruits and vegetables but still get protein from sources other than meat.
Having traveled in Scandanvia recently, I noted a difference in the emphasis on the various food groups from that in America. The people are very health conscious and exercise daily. Many ride bicycles or walk as opposed to owning a car because the gas prices are double and triple those in the U.S. You also see very few overweight individuals. Ironically, so many things in Scandanavia are a smaller size (such as tables, bar stools, beds, toilets, showers, doorways), that an obese person faces challenges. I wonder if others who have traveled abroad notice that obesity is not as prevalent as in the U.S.
Thanks, Karen and Kathy, for some excellent cross-discipline lesson suggestions resulting from the new USDA "My Plate." I look forward to reading how other teachers may incorporate this information into their lesson planning.
Scandinavia, much of Latin America, New Zealand--I've noticed it too. It's no wonder that our students struggle to understand good nutrition and fitness. Our culture sends tremendously mixed messages. Like you, I notice the correlation between Weight Watchers and the new Plate format. I hope good learning activities come out of the newly unveiled program.
I also like the simplicity of the new MyPlate graphic, especially for kids, since the pyramid could get confusing. However, as some of you have already mentioned, it doesn't relate well to vegetarians or people with different diet choices. I guess you have to have a starting point and that can lead to further discussions (like this one!). Science NetLinks has several health and nutrition resources that we are in the process of updating from the pyramid to the plate. One we just finished is the MyPlate Food Guide lesson. This can be used as a way to introduce kids to MyPlate and get them thinking about healthy eating.
The Wall Street Journal recently ran an article on "My Plate." The newspaper published pictures of the orignal food pyramid, the revised food pyramid, and the new "My Plate" recommendations. If a picture is worth a thousand words, the "My Plate" graphic wins hands down. Everybody likes matching games and the colorful plate is set up like a matching game tile. I can imagine conscientious moms asking kids to build plates that look like "My Plate."
I'm going to start building my own dinner plates on that model.
Being a FACS teacher I have watched the food pyramid evolve, leading to lots of changes in my lesson plans over the years. I think the plate is a straightforward way to illustrate what we should be eating. I feel that even young students will understand the concept of it. With the epidemic of obesity in this country including childhood obesity, anything that gets nutrition into the news is a good thing, and I am glad that Michelle Obama is interested in this topic and trying to help. What kinds of beverages and snacks are found in the dispensing machines in your schools? Are there items that would not be welcome on the "plate?"
I kind of like the plate graphic. I think kids might relate to it better than the pyramid graphic as we don't use pyramids much these days so they aren't as familiar. Also since the plate is divided into 4 sections it might be easier to relate to also since most kids are familiar with half and fourth and so on. I enjoyed visiting the rest of this site to for interesting nutritional information.
The plate graphic is a great idea, but why not use the center of the circle and change the central angle to represent the amount of the plate covered by each section. Kids are used to seeing circles divided in this way, not in the way this graphic is cut up. Think "pieces of a pie." We don't cut pies up as this plate graphic has done. In math classes, students could discuss/discover what percent of the circle is given to each section.