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New Food Pyramid Unveiled

New Food Pyramid UnveiledTheintroduction of a Web-based, 12-pronged health guide that replacesthe iconic food pyramid was met with mixed reactions by some Tuftsnutrition experts.Boston

Boston [04.25.05] In an effort to personalize its traditional food pyramid,the United States Agriculture Department recently unveiled MyPyramid– an online guide to nutrition and fitness that allows usersto customize their dietary guidelines based on their individualhealth needs. While some Tufts nutrition experts praised the evolutionof the pyramid, others expressed concerned that many American’saren’t getting the message about the importance of healthyeating and exercise.

"It'salways good to go from strength to strength," Friedman Schoolof Nutrition Science and Policy Professor JohannaDwyer, who directs the Frances Stern Nutrition Center at Tufts-NewEngland Medical Center, told the Boston Herald in praiseof the model. "I think the pyramid message is a good one."

The pyramidhas evolved from showing pictures of food with serving informationto displaying vertical color-coded bands of varying widths, representingsuggested consumption of grains, vegetables, fruits, oils, milkand proteins.

"It'sjust supposed to remind people that the tip of the pyramid shouldn'tbe the base," Dwyer told the Herald. "I likethe pyramid, but the point is that it can't do everything andit shouldn't do everything."

But FriedmanSchool Professor JeanneGoldberg says that the new pyramid model will face many ofthe same challenges of the former pyramid. .

One of thebiggest problems with the old pyramid model was getting the publicto follow its advice, Goldberg told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution,and she believes that challenge persists with the USDA's new model.Goldberg directs the Center for Nutrition Communications at theFriedman School.

"If peoplehad followed the guidance in the old Food Guide Pyramid, we wouldhave been better off in terms of nutritional well-being than weare now," she told the Journal-Constitution. "The[new] self-monitoring tools are a real strength, but you haveto use them."

Another concernabout MyPyramid is its online focus – users must log into a website and input information about themselves in order toreceive a customized nutrition guide. "It does depend oncomputer literacy," Goldberg told the Journal-Constitution.

In an interviewwith Wisconsin Public Radio, AnnYelmokas McDermott, a nutrition scientist at the Jean MayerUSDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts, notedthat MyPyramid will require some educational support but alsomade an additional point.

“Howdo you take [scientific] recommendations for a 10-year old, an80-year old and a pregnant woman and put them into one image?It’s a nearly impossible task. They were looking towardsthe future, trying to figure out …the best way to reachthe most people.

McDermottfeels that the personalization enabled by this new model is keyto making nutrition guidelines less confusing.

"Especiallysince they did this personalized approach, the 12 pyramid approach,I don’t have to know every pyramid; you don’t haveto know every pyramid. What it does do is give you the pyramidfor you.”

















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