What is MyPlate? Few Americans know or heed the US nutrition guide

Here’s a quick test: What has replaced the food pyramid, the government guide to healthy eating that has been around for nearly 20 years?

If you’re surprised, you’re not alone.

More than a decade after Department of Agriculture officials abandoned the pyramid, few Americans have heard of MyPlate, a dinner plate-shaped logo that highlights fruits and vegetables.

According to a study published Tuesday by the National Center for Health Statistics, only about 25% of adults were aware of MyPlate and less than 10% attempted to use the guide. These figures for 2017-2020 showed only a slight improvement over a similar survey a few years ago.

This means that although nutrition-related diseases such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease continue to rise, the Obama administration program, which costs nearly $3 million a year, is not reaching most Americans.

“This is currently the primary educational tool for Americans to communicate guidelines,” said Edwina Wambogo, lead author of the study and a nutritional epidemiologist at the agency. “MyPlate should be in a little better condition.”

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Marion Nestle, a food policy expert, said the results were not surprising at all.

“Why would you expect otherwise?” he said in an email. “MyPlate never came up with an education campaign, so far it’s old hat, it only dealt with healthy food, it didn’t say anything about unhealthy food, and it’s so far from what Americans actually eat that it seems out of reach.”

A senior USDA official said the agency wants the proposed fiscal year 2023 budget to be increased from $3 million to $10 million per year to support the MyPlate campaign by expanding its reach and making recipes and other materials more culturally relevant.

“We definitely want to ensure that MyPlate and other critical tools are in the hands of more people,” said Stacy Dean, vice president of food, nutrition and consumer services.

The new study found that people who rated their diets as excellent, very good, or good were much more likely to have heard of MyPlate than those who said their diet was fair or poor. The study found that about a third of those who heard the plan tried to follow it.

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MyPlate was introduced in 2011 with the high-profile support of former First Lady Michelle Obama, who made healthy eating and exercise her focus.

It uses a dinner plate with four colored compartments for fruit, vegetables, grains and protein, and a smaller circle for dairy products such as low-fat milk or yogurt. He encouraged Americans to make half of their meals promoted fruits and vegetables in a quick and easily accessible format.

A nutritionist at the University of California, Los Angeles, Dr. However, Vijaya Surampudi said the guide left out very important details.

“It doesn’t differentiate between starchy vegetables and non-starchy vegetables,” he said. “There’s no oil in there.”

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Nestle added that MyPlate does not recognize that vegetables, grains and dairy foods also contain protein.

MyPlate replaced the USDA’s food pyramid, which was in use from 1992 to 2011. Despite being recognized by generations of schoolchildren, nutritionists have criticized the pyramid for promoting too many carbohydrates and reducing fat through grains.

“It wasn’t the best set of advice on many levels,” Surampudi said. “Our diabetes rates have not dropped. Our obesity rates have not decreased. rose.”

The new study calls for research into why some groups are less likely to be aware of and follow government guidance and how best to reach those with malnutrition.

But it’s hard, Surampudi said. In general, people now know that they should eat more fruits and vegetables. Beyond that, the message gets mixed up.

“As soon as it gets a little confusing, people shut down,” he said.


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