MyPyramid, released by the United States Department of Agriculture on April 19, 2005, is an update on the ubiquitous U.S. food guide pyramid. The new icon stresses activity and moderation along with a proper mix of food groups in one's diet. As part of the MyPyramid food guidance system, consumers are asked to visit the MyPyramid website for personalized nutrition information.
MyPyramid was designed to educate consumers about a lifestyle consistent with the latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans, an 80-page document released in January 2005. The guidelines, produced jointly by the USDA and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), represent the federal nutrition policy.
MyPyramid contains eight divisions. From left to right on the pyramid are six food groups:
* Grains, recommending that at least half of grains consumed be as
There are two other categories:
* Physical activity, represented by a person climbing steps on the
pyramid, with at least 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity per
The USDA chose to encode several themes into the design of the MyPyramid icon. According to the USDA, MyPyramid incorporates:
* Personalization, demonstrated by the MyPyramid Web site. To find
a personalized recommendation of the kinds and amounts of food to eat
each day, users must visit MyPyramid.gov.
Differences from the food guide pyramid
In a departure from the food guide pyramid, no foods are pictured on the MyPyamid logo itself. Instead, the logo emphasizes physical activity by showing a person climbing steps on the side of the pyramid. Colored vertical bands represent different food groups. MyPyramid is also intentionally simpler than the food guide pyramid after several USDA studies indicated that consumers widely misunderstood the original design. Consumers are asked to visit the MyPyramid.gov website for personalized nutrition information.
The food guide pyramid gave recommendations measured in "serving sizes", which some people found confusing. MyPyramid gives its recommendations in cups, ounces, and other measures that may be easier to understand.
The food guide pyramid gave a single set of specific recommendations for all people. In contrast, MyPyramid has 12 sets of possible recommendations, with the appropriate guide for an individual selected based on sex, age group, and activity level. MyPyramid does provide sample recommendations on their miniposter:
According to its website, MyPyramid and its associated guidelines were designed for all Americans over 2 years old, although a separate awareness campaign targeted specifically at children is also planned.
A working title of food guidance system was used before the MyPyramid name was chosen.
The MyPyramid update was long-awaited by several lobbying, consumer-advocacy, and professional groups, including the American Dietetic Association, which played a role in recommending the update.
Since it was announced, MyPyramid has been under criticism by nutritionists and graphics design experts for being ineffective and difficult to understand. Charges are as follows:
* The colored stripes are not labeled and are therefore confusing.
Food Pyramids Harvard School of Public Health Nutrition Source, compares pyramids