Thursday, June 2, 2011

Memories of MyPyramid® #RDChat #GardenCuizine

Memories of MyPyramid®

Today, obesity and inactivity are at the highest rates America has ever seen. This is causing great concerns for the future health of many Americans.
Obesity often results in unwanted complications like inactivity, knee replacements, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, high triglycerides, non alcoholic fatty liver disease and heart disease.

Weight loss is especially desirable after the pounds are on and complications are lurking. Obese individuals may find themselves tempted with what may appear to be an easy solution, bariatric surgery.  “The annual rate of bariatric surgery in the United States increased nearly six fold between 1990 and 2000.” [1] Bariatric Surgeries include Gastric bypass, LapBand® (laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding) and Gastric Sleeve (vertical sleeve gastrectomy), a procedure in which the surgeon permanently removes more than half of the patient’s stomach, leaving the remains in a tube or sleeve shape. These weight loss surgeries are increasing at an alarming rate.

Time for a Change!

With all these unhealthy statistics on the minds of our nations leaders, it seems change is in order for better ways and teaching tools that may have an impact on improving and maintaining a healthy body weight, better diet and more fitness. Today, the USDA will be presenting a major image change by replacing their controversial MyPyramid® logo to what they hope to be a more useful and effective one. 

As I wait to see the First Lady Michelle Obama, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Surgeon General Regina Benjamin unveil the new food icon that will serve as a reminder to help consumers make healthier food choices, I've been reminiscing to when the first food guide pyramid was released. The first USDA food guide pyramid was published in 1992. I had my award winning health food store and restaurant, Garden of Eden Natural Foods and Country Kitchen, Inc. in Mt. Laurel, NJ. Ahhh…we had some good times back then and served up some great wholesome food too. The food guide pyramid was the focus of attention in my eatery. I hung it smack in the center of the dining room on a wall of fruit adorned wall paper just above the chair rail that lined a row of oak slatted booths.

It was during my nutrition studies at Rutgers University in 2005 when the USDA introduced their new version of the pyramid. It had vertical bands of solid colors representing the food groups. I remember being a bit shocked, because I had just studied and learned all about the old version. Relearning about the new MyPyramid® wasn’t that bad though. I liked the fact they added a silhouette walking up steps to symbolize the need for exercise as part of a healthy lifestyle. And I liked the fact the USDA introduced a Kid's version of MyPyramid
® too.

The 2005 logo maintained the pyramid shape, but excluded pictures of foods that people were accustomed to seeing in the first pyramid - many people complained about not understanding the new pyramid and found it confusing. To add to the confusion, serving sizes were not clearly stated like they were in the previous version. To find out nutrition recommendations, an individual would have to log in to the website to find out. Although nutrition needs vary per individual and this was personalized nutrition information, it caused even more trouble because not everyone had a computer and frankly, it was too much work and trouble - some lost interest - some just didn't care. 

MyPyramid® was deemed unsuccessful in terms of reaching the majority of Americans. 
  • Tune in to USDA Live coverage June 2, 2011  10:45 AM EDT for news of the new food icon
  • or Twitter #RDChat for more on the new USDA logo coverage
Related Links:  
Let's Move
Dietary Recommendations and how they have changed over time  
Here it is!!! Check out the new food icon
American Heart Association comments on the new icon

References: [1] Trus TL, Pope GD, Finlayson SR; National trends in utilization and outcomes of bariatric surgery; Surg Endosc. May;19(5):616-20. Epub 2005 Mar 11

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