MyPlate? Few Americans Know or Heed US Nutrition Guide

November 29, 2022by Jonel Aleccia, Associated Press
MyPlate? Few Americans Know or Heed US Nutrition Guide
A sample plate of the food icon MyPlate, is unveiled at the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Washington, Thursday, June 2, 2011. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

Here’s a quick quiz: What replaced the food pyramid, the government guide to healthy eating that stood for nearly 20 years?

If you’re stumped, you’re not alone.

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

Only about 25% of adults were aware of MyPlate – and less than 10% had attempted to use the guidance, according to a study released Tuesday by the National Center for Health Statistics. Those figures for 2017-2020 showed only slight improvement from a similar survey done a few years earlier.


That means that the Obama administration program that costs about $3 million a year hasn’t reached most Americans, even as diet-related diseases such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease have continued to rise.

“This is currently the primary education tool that communicates guidelines for Americans,” said the study’s lead author, Edwina Wambogo, a nutrition epidemiologist at the agency. “MyPlate should be doing a little bit better.”

The results are hardly surprising, said Marion Nestle, a food policy expert.

“Why would anyone expect otherwise?” she said in an email. “MyPlate never came with an education campaign, is old hat by now, only dealt with healthy foods, said nothing about unhealthy foods and is so far from what Americans actually eat as to seem unattainable.”

A top USDA official said the agency’s proposed fiscal year 2023 budget seeks an increase from $3 million to $10 million a year to bolster the MyPlate campaign by extending its reach and making recipes and other materials more culturally relevant.

“We absolutely want to make sure that MyPlate and other critical tools are in the hands of more people,” said Stacy Dean, deputy undersecretary for food, nutrition and consumer services.

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


MyPlate was introduced in 2011 with high-profile support from former first lady Michelle Obama, who made healthy eating and exercise her focus.

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

But the guide left out crucial details, said Dr. Vijaya Surampudi, a nutrition specialist at the University of California, Los Angeles.

“It doesn’t differentiate between starchy vegetables and non-starchy vegetables,” she said. “There’s no fats on there.”

Nor does MyPlate acknowledge that vegetables, grains and dairy foods also contain protein, Nestle added.

MyPlate replaced the USDA’s food pyramid, which was in use from 1992 to 2011. Although it was recognized by generations of schoolkids, nutritionists were critical of the pyramid for promoting too many carbohydrates through grains and cutting back on fats.

“It wasn’t the best set of recommendations on so many levels,” Surampudi said. “Our rates of diabetes didn’t go down. Our rates of obesity didn’t go down. It went up.”

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

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

“The minute it gets a little confusing, people shut down,” she said.


___

The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

A+
a-

Food

January 24, 2023
by Dan McCue
Looking to Chow Down and Not Gain Weight? AARP Offers Some Hope

WASHINGTON — We all think of January as our “makeover” month. Diets start, exercise equipment gets an extra look and... Read More

WASHINGTON — We all think of January as our “makeover” month. Diets start, exercise equipment gets an extra look and when the weather is good, walks get just a little bit longer. Still, for most of us, dropping unwanted pounds remains a challenge. When your brain... Read More

January 20, 2023
by Dan McCue
Panel Named to Work on New Dietary Guidelines

WASHINGTON — Twenty nationally recognized public health and nutrition experts have been tapped by the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and... Read More

WASHINGTON — Twenty nationally recognized public health and nutrition experts have been tapped by the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services to help draft the nation’s revised dietary guidelines. The first meeting of the new Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee will be Feb. 9-10,... Read More

November 30, 2022
by TWN Staff
New Study Challenges ‘Good’ Cholesterol’s Role in Predicting Heart Disease Risk

BETHESDA, Md. — A new study has found that high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, the so-called "good cholesterol," may not be as... Read More

BETHESDA, Md. — A new study has found that high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, the so-called "good cholesterol," may not be as effective as scientists once believed in uniformly predicting cardiovascular disease risk among adults of different racial and ethnic backgrounds.  In fact, the research, which was supported... Read More

MyPlate? Few Americans Know or Heed US Nutrition Guide

Here’s a quick quiz: What replaced the food pyramid, the government guide to healthy eating that stood for nearly 20... Read More

Here’s a quick quiz: What replaced the food pyramid, the government guide to healthy eating that stood for nearly 20 years? If you’re stumped, you’re not alone. More than a decade after Agriculture Department officials ditched the pyramid, few Americans have heard of MyPlate, a dinner... Read More

Fighting Food Poisoning: Sweeping Poultry Changes Proposed

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Friday proposed sweeping changes in the way chicken and... Read More

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Friday proposed sweeping changes in the way chicken and turkey meat is processed that are intended to reduce illnesses from food contamination but could require meat companies to make extensive changes to their operations. Despite decades... Read More

September 27, 2022
by Dan McCue
White House Outlines Strategy for Ending Hunger by 2030

WASHINGTON — In the 50 years since the last Conference on Food, Nutrition and Health was convened at the White... Read More

WASHINGTON — In the 50 years since the last Conference on Food, Nutrition and Health was convened at the White House, the United States has struggled to end chronic food insecurity in some communities, while seeing a marked increase in diet-related diseases like type 2 diabetes,... Read More

News From The Well
scroll top