Monday, September 26, 2011

Harvard's new Healthy Eating Plate

The new Harvard Healthy Eating Plate ...

... clearly is a modified version of USDA's MyPlate,...

... just as the earlier Harvard "Healthy Eating Pyramid" ...

 ... clearly was based on USDA's first pyramid graphic.  Harvard's experts in nutritional epidemiology agree with USDA's graphic designers on many key points.

Still, the Harvard researchers do make some distinctions.

One difference is that Harvard's new plate graphic requires 2 times as many words to communicate its message [Update, same day: edited the number of words to count USDA's accompanying text].  This may be helpful in dietary guidance targeting audiences with strong reading skills.

A second difference is that Harvard's new graphic substitutes water in place of dairy as the beverage placed outside of the plate.  The Harvard plate is more austere than the earlier Harvard pyramid, which was accompanied by a wine glass, and which also emphasized dairy.  The wine and the dairy are now gone from the new Harvard graphic.

A third difference is that the new Harvard graphic includes what looks like a very large amount of salad dressing oil, while recommending limits on red meat.

I see nutrition merit in the Harvard graphic, but wonder if it is more successful at emphasizing distinctions with USDA than at communicating dietary guidance to a general audience.


Stephanie said...

I definitely agree that the cruet is confusing. Even to someone who knows what the written recommendations suggest, it's an odd way to express fat choices. Much of our fat is adding during cooking/processing, or is naturally present, rather than being added directly to the plate. How does the oil by the plate translate to the fat in the pan?

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