Harvard Takes Exception to the Government’s Food Pyramid-replacement, “MyPlate,” and Develops the “Healthy Eating Plate”

Posted by erik devaney

Gone are the days when you could look to a pyramid to guide you in your eating habits. Now the USDA is serving up its MyPlate, which looks like a variation on a Trivial Pursuit game piece. The MyPlate nutrition guide is anything but complicated: it’s color-coded; the food groups you should eat the most of take up the largest portions of the plate; and all of the other information you need is summed up in five words: fruits, vegetables, grains, protein and dairy.

Simple, right? The nutrition experts from the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) thought so as well, only they thought MyPlate was too simple. To remedy this problem and to illuminate some of the nutritional concerns that MyPlate fails to address, Harvard designed its own nutrition guide: the Healthy Eating Plate.

Just from reading the name you know that Harvard is going be dropping some serious knowledge with this guide. While the USDA’s “MyPlate” sounds like it could be a social network for foodies or a Cambridge-based food industry startup, the name “Healthy Eating Plate” doesn’t leave much to the imagination.

While Harvard’s guide sticks with the USDA’s plate theme, you can clearly see that the Healthy Eating Plate provides considerably more nutritional information. For example, unlike MyPlate, Harvard’s guide differentiates between whole grains and processed grains; it mentions that some protein-rich foods, like fish, are healthier than others, like red meat; and it advises against consuming sugary drinks.

In contrast to MyPlate, Harvard’s Healthy Eating Plate does not include dairy as a primary food group (nor does it promote the consumption of dairy on a daily basis). Such dietary recommendations, it seems, are not rooted firmly in science.

“…MyPlate mixes science with the influence of powerful agricultural interests, which is not the recipe for healthy eating,” stated HSPH epidemiology and nutrition professor — and chair of the Department of Nutrition — Walter Willett. “The Healthy Eating Plate is based on the best available scientific evidence and provides consumers with the information they need to make choices that can profoundly affect our health and well-being.”

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Posted by erik devaney on Sep 21 2011. Filed under Featured - For home page featured article, Health. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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