Michelle Obama Supports USDA’s Change From Food Pyramid to Plate

Michelle Obama Supports USDA's Change From Food Pyramid to Plate
First Lady Obama unveils MyPlate at the USDA headquarters. Susan Walsh/AP

First lady Michelle Obama is a woman of action, especially when it comes to her beloved health and fitness initiatives. Recently, her “Let’s Move” campaign netted a major coup when it inspired the U.S. Department of Agriculture to discontinue using the nearly 20-year-old “MyPyramid,” aka “food pyramid,” in favor of a simple, colorful, contemporary “MyPlate” nutrition graphic organizer.

As a person who has struggled with extra weight in my middle years, the last thing I need to hear is “plate.” A plate? Really? Another reminder of food?

Michelle Obama, who is pleased with and optimistic about the new program, said that health and fitness issues is one topic that “brings us together” as a culturally and politically diverse country “no matter if we have been on opposite sides of issues in the past.”

Despite her support of the new icon, Obama also remains realistic and cautions the nation about its health habits, saying that the program will not give families “access to affordable fruits and vegetables, spur kids to get up and get active for an hour a day” or make parents help their families make wise choices.

“We still have to do that. That’s still on us,” Obama warned. View more of  the first lady’s comments here Michelle Obama on MyPlate.

Michelle Obama Supports USDA's Change From Food Pyramid to Plate
The food pyramid of our youth, now an artifact

“It’s grabbing the consumers’ attention that we are after this time, not making it so complicated that perhaps it is a turnoff,” said Robert Post of USDA’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion to the media. “There is something really inviting about this familiar setting for meal time.” The USDA and other nutrition experts said the former MyPyramid was too complicated and information-heavy.

Post, who spent two years developing the entire MyPlate program, said the new nutrition icon is “more artistic and attractive” and provides a visual cue to Americans on how they should be eating healthy. The hope is that children will grasp the concept better as the nation attempts to battle the obesity epidemic and subsequent health-related problems.

However, one nutrition expert said in a television interview this weekend that citizens should not get confused by the Plate. “You don’t take each of those sections and pile the food as high as you can in each one,” she said, holding her hand several inches above the table at which she sat. Portion control is still a necessity.

USDA officials also committed to make better use of social media, such as Twitter, by sharing helpful daily tips. The program’s interesting, user-friendly website,, addresses the needs of individual groups and includes information, tips and interactive planning and tracking tools, even a “Child Cost Calculator.” On Sunday, June 5, the web tip was: “Make most of your choices whole or cut-up fruit rather than juice, for the benefits dietary fiber provides.”

Prior to the now-discarded food pyramid, the USDA disseminated nutrition guidelines and information via a pamphlet. –arnell pharr

Tell us what you think of the replacement of the old “food pyramid.” Do you think it will help? Was it a good idea or not? Is this another “dumbing down of America” move?

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