From the USDA press release today:
WASHINGTON, April 19, 2005 — Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns today unveiled MyPyramid, a new symbol and interactive food guidance system. “Steps to a Healthier You,” MyPyramid’s central message, supports President Bush’s HealthierUS initiative which is designed to help Americans live longer, better and healthier lives. MyPyramid, which replaces the Food Guide Pyramid introduced in 1992, is part of an overall food guidance system that emphasizes the need for a more individualized approach to improving diet and lifestyle.The designers of the new graphic faced a difficult challenge. On the one hand, the existing 1992 Pyramid captured at a glance the overall picture of a healthy plant-centered diet. On the other, hand, the old Pyramid didn't do so well at making important distinctions within food groups, such as between whole grains and refined grains, or between high-fat and low-fat dairy products. The new Dietary Guidelines give greater emphasis to exercise and healthy weight, to whole grains, and to the difference between the most harmful fats (saturated fats and trans fats) and other fats. I saw drafts of the new graphic in the past year, which I worried overreacted by sacrificing the between-group message of the old Pyramid entirely.
At first glance, the new graphic isn't bad. Exercise is featured with the new stairs element. The central columns are for fruits, vegetables, and low-fat milk. Meat and grains get peripheral treatment, and the more detailed descriptions make very clear that the purple meat column is for "meat and beans," while the orange grains column is for whole grains.
I look forward to following in this space the whirlwind of public commentary that will be launched today.