Federal Food Pyramid prompts a lawsuit by PCRM
Checkup readers responded with characteristic verve a few weeks ago when I wrote about the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine's list of the worst cookbooks of 2010. True to its pro-vegetarian stance, PCRM gave the thumbs-down to those that focused on meat-based recipes and those containing lots of saturated fats. Not all of you agreed with PCRM's opinions.
So I wonder what you all will think of the committee's decision last week to sue the USDA and the Department of Health and Human Services for allegedly overlooking science, and for shunning PCRM's alternative healthful-eating graphic, when devising the Food Pyramid.
The PCRM-preferred "Power Plate" is admittedly a much simpler scheme than the MyPyramid (the federal government's current iteration of the Food Pyramid): It shows a plate divided into four food groups -- fruits, grains, legumes and vegetables. Followers of the Power Plate are asked to eat a variety of those foods daily. (You can click on each of the food groups for lists of foods in that group and ideas for working them into your diet.)
There have been many other takes on the Food Pyramid: I kind of like the Mediterranean version devised in 1993 by Oldways, the Harvard School of Public Health and the European Office of the World Health Organization. But it's a difficult task, translating complicated nutrition information into a clear and straightforward graphic that even a schoolchild can understand. It's an even more daunting task to get anyone to pay attention to your graphic or to follow its guidance in real life.
The new Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 will soon be upon us, along with, presumably, a new Pyramid of some sort. As PCRM rightly points out, the nutrition and weight-control scene in America hasn't exactly improved since the first Food Pyramid was introduced in 1992, with two-thirds of Americans now overweight or obese. PCRM argues that a plant-based diet -- such as is depicted in the Power Plate -- would serve Americans, and their waistlines, far better than does the Pyramid.
All of this makes me wonder how many people really use MyPyramid to guide their dietary choices. My kids were dutifully taught about the Pyramid in school health class -- and, apparently, promptly forgot all about it. Even though there's an app for that, they pay it no heed. Would they pay any more attention to the Power Plate? I have my doubts.
How big a role does the federal government's Food Pyramid/MyPyramid play in your life and that of your family? Please vote in today's poll!
Jennifer LaRue Huget
| January 11, 2011; 7:00 AM ET
Categories: Dietary Guidelines, Family Health, Kids' health, Nutrition and Fitness, Obesity
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