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The new food pyramid

Concerned about steadily expanding waistlines, the US government has flipped the food pyramid on its side, adding a staircase for exercise and giving consumers 12 individually tailored models for improving their eating habits...

new food pyramidInside the pyramid, rainbow-colored bands representing different food groups run vertically from the tip to the base. The old single, triangle-shaped pyramid had a horizontal presentation of food categories that many found confusing. 'The new guide, dubbed 'My Pyramid,' encourages people to customise their diet and exercise regimen along 12 models geared to specific calorie needs and levels of physical activity,' explain reports.

'Food groups are represented by six colours: orange for grains, green for vegetables, red for fruits, yellow for oils, blue for milk products and purple for meats and beans. The bands are wider for grains, vegetables, milk products and fruits because people should eat more of them.' Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns called the new guide 'a system of information to help consumers understand how to put nutrition recommendations into action.'

With obesity having risen significantly since the release of the food pyramid in 1992, a report last month in the New England Journal of Medicine reports that obesity, particularly in children, was shaving four to nine months off the average life expectancy.

Johanns said the 1992 pyramid had 'become quite familiar, but few Americans follow the recommendations.' He said that knowledge about nutrition and food consumption patterns has grown significantly in the past dozen years and is reflected in the new food guidance symbols.

'If we don't change these trends, our children may be the first generation that cannot look forward to a longer life span than their parents,' said Eric Bost, the Agriculture Department's under secretary for food, nutrition and consumer services.

The switch was recommended in a 70-page booklet, Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005, that was developed by a panel of scientists and doctors and released in January. As the basis for revising the pyramid, the guidelines emphasise choosing good carbohydrates over bad ones. For example, choosing bread made from whole-grain flour instead of white flour. Also recommended was eating 30 grams of whole-grain foods a day; eating 2 cups of fruit and 2 1/2 cups of vegetables a day and drinking 3 cups of fat-free or low fat milk a day.

Source: IHRSA

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