Kathi 2012-04-24 01:26:11
US Revising Food Pyramid to Slim Waists
Wed September 10, 2003 04:09 PM ET By Randy Fabi
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. government on Wednesday moved forward
with its plan to refashion its well-known Food Guide Pyramid to help
pear-shaped Americans eat less and exercise more.
With two-thirds of Americans either overweight or obese, consumers have
largely ignored the government’s dietary guidelines and eat too many
sweets and fats rather than fruits and vegetables.
“We’ve got to do something to get a behavioral change,” said Eric
Hentges, director of U.S. Agriculture Department’s Center for Nutrition
Policy and Promotion. The USDA and the Health and Human Services are
responsible for federal nutrition policy.
Developed in 1992, the Food Guide Pyramid offers a general outline on
how much a healthy person should eat each day from the five major food
groups. It is the main educational tool used to help consumers interpret
the U.S. Dietary Guidelines.
The government, which is working to revise both the Pyramid and the
Dietary Guidelines by early 2005, on Wednesday called for input from
dietitians, nutritionists, academics, industry representatives and other
Under the new Pyramid, the USDA will recognize for the first time that
most Americans do not exercise regularly.
New brochures and educational materials about the new pyramid may be
targeted to consumers with sedentary lifestyles, Hentges said. Americans
who are physically active would be encouraged to obtain more specific
dietary information through a government Web site.
“Given the sedentary lifestyles of many Americans, it was considered
better not to assume any specific level of physical activity,” the USDA
The USDA said its publications would encourage regular exercise.
The current pyramid graphically depicts how Americans should divvy up
their food intake each day. Fats, oils and sweets are at the narrow top
of the pyramid with advice to use them sparingly. Dairy and meat
products occupy the next tier of the pyramid, with a recommended 2 to 3
servings per day. Next are vegetable and fruits, with a recommended 5 to
9 servings daily. At the bottom of the pyramid is the bread, rice and
pasta group, with 6 to 11 servings recommended.
The new pyramid may also use cups and ounces to replace the more vague
“servings,” the USDA said.
Some nutrition experts were, however, skeptical USDA’s efforts would
help solve America’s obesity epidemic.
“Nobody understands the pyramid anyway,” said Marion Nestle, a nutrition
professor at New York University. “Until USDA starts giving straight
information about foods and diets, it’s pretty unlikely that people will
understand what they need to do to lose weight.”
Under the proposal, the USDA offers significantly more detail on the
amount of calories certain groups should consume on a daily basis.
Groups are based on age, s** and level of exercise.
The proposed recommended servings of fruits, vegetables, grains, meat
and milk are based on 12 calorie levels ranging from 1,000 to 3,200
calories. The current Pyramid bases food portions on only three levels
— 1,600, 2,200 and 2,800 calories.
An example, a 25-year-old female who doesn’t exercise needs about 2,000
calories per day, while a woman the same age who walks three miles a day
needs 400 more calories.
USDA’s proposal also takes into consideration recent concerns over trans
fats and the benefits of whole grains.
Hentges said the USDA was reviewing every aspect of the Food Guide
Pyramid, so consumers can make nutritional choices that are “adequate,
Depending on how food groups, consumer advocates and other interested
parties respond to the proposal, the pyramid could take a different
shape when the revisions are published in February 2005. No new shapes
have been proposed, Hentges said.