This morning Surgeon General Regina Benjamin, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and First Lady Michelle Obama unveiled the new MyPlate icon, which is replacing the food pyramid. Surgeon General Benjamin opened the remarks, explaining how the U.S. needs to help citizens lead healthy lifestyles, by giving them concrete steps towards improving their health. Besides telling Americans to cut down on sugar, sodium and saturated fats, she says she hopes the new icon will be a tool to help people understand what they can do to improve their diets.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack introduced a short video that highlighted some of the ways the new icon can help families make better choices and introduced MyPlate.gov, a website dedicated to helping Americans eat healthier meals. He described the old food pyramid as “too complex to serve as a quick and easy guide” and explains that MyPlate is a simple, visual, research-based icon built on the 2010 dietary guidelines.
Michelle Obama might be considered the keynote speaker of the presentation, considering her pivotal role in the nation’s campaign against childhood obesity. She thanked the diverse group of people who worked towards making MyPlate possible. “No matter which box we check on our ballots, all of us care about our nation’s health,” she said.
As a parent, Obama discussed how she plans to use MyPlate to create family meals, expressing her own struggles to sort through nutritional information. She said the new icon is a simple way for time-pressed parents to ensure that their kids are getting the nutrients they need. “What’s more simple than a plate?” She asked. “As a mom, I can tell you how much this is going to help parents across the country.”
The first lady explained that the plate can also be an educational tool for children, and noted that “kids can learn how to use this tool now, and use it for the rest of their lives.”
MyPlate is part of an ongoing effort to help Americans live healthier lives. Obama said she and her task force will continue to work with community partners to make fresh fruits and vegetables more affordable and accessible, to help children get an hour of exercise per day and to find other “fun and simple” solutions for healthier living.
“It’s important to look at your plate and see this sort of breakdown reflected,” comments Biggest Loser nutritionist Cheryl Forberg, RD. “But it’s equally important to remember that your shopping cart should be filled in something like this ratio, and school lunches–which can come in boxes, compartmentalized containers and square trays–should also look similar to amounts suggested in the new icon.” (Click here to see Cheryl’s complete commentary about MyPlate)
Obama concluded, “I know we can get every single kid in this country the healthy future they deserve.”
Images via the USDA livestream and MyPlate.gov.