The Food Guide Pyramid was far from a perfect model for healthy eating, but it did have some strengths. The U.S. Department of Agriculture introduced the pyramid graphic in 1992 after performing extensive consumer research on eating patterns and knowledge. The pyramid was then revamped in 2005 and replaced by a plate model in 2011, but many of its original advantages hold true in those updated models.
The Food Guide Pyramid emphasized the importance of eating a balanced, varied diet by depicting five main food groups: grains, fruits, vegetables, dairy products and other proteins, including meat, fish, beans, nuts and eggs. Included with each food group were recommended servings per day, which communicated the idea that it’s healthy to eat a variety of foods daily rather than getting most of your calories from just one or two of the groups.
The tip of the Food Guide Pyramid depicted fats, oils and sweets and recommended limiting them to 100 to 300 of your total daily calories. Although some fats, such as olive oil, have proven benefits for cardiovascular health, many Americans do eat unhealthier fats and sweets in excess, both of which can negatively affect heart health. In that regard, the recommendation to limit fats and sweets was valid.
Easy to Understand
Harvard School of Public Health’s nutrition researchers are quick to point out flaws in the Food Guide Pyramid, but they admit that the pyramid shape had a tremendous benefit in being clear and easy to understand. By using a pyramid, the USDA was able to immediately imply that foods near the bottom of the pyramid were “good” and should be major fixtures of most people’s diets, and foods nearer the tip of the pyramid were “bad” and should be limited or avoided.
The Food Guide Pyramid appealed to people’s visual interest by showing examples of foods that might be healthy choices from each main group. Although not all depictions were of equally healthy foods, many items shown were significant sources of essential vitamins and minerals. Some of the healthiest foods shown were whole-grain bread, milk, eggs, fish, nuts, beans, fresh fruits like apples and oranges, and fresh vegetables like broccoli and leafy greens. Seeing examples of what you “should” be eating helped you think about healthy meal planning and what to pick when you had more than one option.
About the Author
Carly Schuna is a Wisconsin-based professional writer, editor and copy editor/proofreader. She has worked with hundreds of pieces of fiction, nonfiction, children's literature, feature stories and corporate content. Her expertise on food, cooking, nutrition and fitness information comes from a Level 1 personal training certification and years of in-depth study.
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The food guide pyramid plays an important role in the health education of the majority of people in the United States. It is meant to guide the general healthy public in how to eat healthy to stay healthy. It includes a wide variety of foods to provide a healthy range of nutrients that are needed daily. The food guide pyramid is an excellent way to educate the public on how to eat healthy. The new food guide pyramid also includes exercise. This is a way to universally educate people.
The food guide pyramid is not a way to cure anything or solve any immediate problems; it is guidelines that help people to understand what they should be eating. The food guide pyramid is meant for people without special health circumstances ages 2 and up. It is a way to promote variety in a diet and to help people understand what is good for them. The food guide pyramid includes foods that do not promote chronic diseases.
Foods that cause chronic diseases are avoided in the food guide pyramid. As more research is done the food guide pyramid progresses with it. The dietary guidelines are updated every 5 years; these are what provide all of the information for the food guide pyramid. From the first food guide pyramid, it has improved greatly with the research that has been done. It definitely progresses along with the most up to date information that is available. This is what is best for the public (Carole Davis).
The food guide pyramid today is wisely known in the United States and is taught in school as guidelines for healthy eating, and healthy lifestyle. The first guidelines for a healthy diet were published in the USDA's Framers Bulletin in 1894. W. O. Atwater was the primary researcher in this subject and had written these guidelines.
The first guidelines suggested that the diets for American males consisted of protein, carbohydrate, fats, and "mineral matter." Atwater also talked of overeating being evil. (Davis and Saltos, 1999). This is interesting because today, this is what professionals say should be avoided. The first food guide for children "Food for Young Children" came out in 1916 from the USDA. This guide included five food groups, milk and meat, cereals, vegetables, and fruits, fats and fatty foods, and sugars and sugary food. (Davis and Saltos, 1999) Then there was a guide published in 1917 for the general public instead of just for young children using the same basis as the guide published in 1916.
This guide was modified in 1923 to accommodate families with more or less people in them. The first Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA's) were developed in 1941. These made recommendations of specific intakes for calories, Vitamins A and D, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and ascorbic acid. Nutrition education for the public was also and important subject that was brought up. (Davis and Saltos, 1999) In 1943 the Basic Seven food guide was published in the USDA, and was revised in 1946. This talked about a diet that would accommodate the basic RDA's but did not have enough calories.
(Davis and Saltos, 1999) In 1956 there was more research being done on foods and their relation to chronic diseases. Fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium were especially looked at. In 1977 the "Dietary Goals for the United States" focused on avoiding the nutrients that were found to cause these chronic diseases. (Davis and Saltos, 1999) These diseases which will include the raises cholesterol levels in the blood. High cholesterol levels, in turn, are associated with a high risk of coronary heat disease (heart attack and other ailments caused by the blockage of the arteries to the heart). In 1979 there were publications out on what fats, sugars, and sodium can do in relation to chronic diseases.
This changed the food groups to the "basic four" plus a fifth group that includes fats, sweets, and alcoholic beverages, which says they should be eaten in moderation. "The first edition of the Dietary Guidelines by the USDA focused on the total diet rather then than the foundation diet, this emphasized how to make food selections to meet both nutrient objectives and to moderate intake of those components related to risk of chronic diseases. (Davis and Saltos, 1999, p 37) The first edition of these guidelines came out in 1980. The Dietary Guidelines focused on the five major food groups. They are: the bread, cereal, rice and pasta group; the vegetable group' the fruit group; the milk, yogurt, and the cheese group; and the meat.
Poultry, fish, dry beans, eggs, and nuts group, and recommends sparing use of a sixth food group-fats, oils, and sweets. (Davis and Saltos, 1999, p 37) This is very close to what has been used since then. In 1988 the groups were formed into a picture that could show what they were trying to say. A pyramid was chose with the smallest amount of foods in a group at the top of the pyramid and the largest group at the bottom of the pyramid. The second editions of the dietary guidelines came out in 1985, the third in 1990, and the fourth in 1995. After 1995 there was a mandate that required that a new edition came out every 5 years.
The guidelines have not changed drastically over the years. (Davis and Saltos, 1999) Furthermore, scientists had found little evidence that a high intake of carbohydrates is beneficial, since 1992 more and more research has shown that the USDA pyramid is grossly flawed. By promoting the consumption of all complex carbohydrates and eschewing all fats and oils, the pyramid provides misleading guidance. In short, not all fats are bad for you, and by no means are all complex carbohydrates good for you. The USDA's Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion is now reassessing the pyramid.
In the meantime, the USDA's center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion) have drawn up a new pyramid that better reflects the current understanding of the relation between diet and health. Studies indicated that adherence to the recommendations in the revised pyramid can significantly reduce the risk of health problems. (Eure) Until now, in 2005 there is a new food guide pyramid. This pyramid is much more better then the old one because of more clearness and more detail of the pyramid.
(Eure) The theme for this pyramid is one size doesn't fit all. This is a drastic change in that it is individualized toward each person and includes exercise, for a healthy life. You can go online and make your own pyramid. "My Pyramid Plan can help you choose the foods and amounts that are right for you. For a quick estimate of what and how much you need to eat, enter your age, sex, and activity level in the My Pyramid Plan box. The website is (web).
It shows how each step is made and what kind of items can you eat to make you healthy. It is an important step in educating more people about what the healthiest diet is for them because no one wants to die young. (Eure) There are many economic aspects to the food guide pyramid. There are also many stockholders involved and those who are affected by it everyday. Upon doing research, many arguments and controversies were revealed. However, none of these arguments had sufficient evidence to support their issues.
Also, the arguments made, were not reflected in the pyramid which is still good for he majority. The most controversial argument made was that the food guide pyramid has an inherent problem due to it being produced by the USDA (Ellis). The USDA is a control industry for beef and dairy in the United States and has an obligation to promote agriculture. The issue that is brought up is that it is difficult for the agency not to be biased towards its beef, dairy, and egg portion recommendation. A major argument that is presented about this is that those people who consumed the recommended dose of meat according to the pyramid were not healthier and their artery blockage did not get better. This brings me back to one concept is that the pyramid was created as a general guide and those who have certain conditions need to be a special diet.
An average, healthy person is fine with consuming the recommended dose of meat and dairy. Not to mention, the pyramid clearly emphasizes choosing lean meats and proper preparation such as roasting or grilling. Another issue is that Pfizer and Merck drug companies are paying the USDA to recommend cholesterol lowering drugs to people as opposed to trying to fix it with diet first (Adams). Once again, any person I know who has been diagnosed with high cholesterol will be recommended by a doctor to consume less cholesterol.
It is kind of common sense. However, cholesterol lowering medication saves lives by preventing heart disease and prolongs one's quality of life. The agency that produces the pyramid is also a food industry. So another argument is that it is naturally pressured by the farming industry to recommend more food then really needed (News Target).
This seems hard to believe since the new food guide pyramid recommend as more then sufficient amount of calories. It is so personalized as to tell you how much of each food group one should be consuming based on their age, gender, and daily activity level. Using myself as an example, the calories recommended were very adequate. The food guide pyramid stresses calories as key to weight loss.
Many people have claimed that they have not lost weight by following the pyramid. They must remember though that the pyramid was created for health and weight maintenance, not weight loss. An article was published recently that the pyramid is racist. The pyramid does not provide adequate nutrition to those who have a strong cultural meal pattern such as Hispanics, African - Americans, and Asians (Bernard). This seems irrelevant because each group in the pyramid features a variety of foods and is not intended for one particular culture, but a general population of Americans. The ethical argument that could be presented here is that of Utilitarianism.
Its ultimate goal is benefiting the majority. The pyramid does precisely that. It is created as a guide for the healthy, average individual. It is aimed to be perceived as an outline rather then rules. The majority of the people do benefit from the pyramid and it is created with a positive purpose. The food guide pyramid falls into the argument for ethical egoism.
The food guide pyramid is good for a majority of he people, this will promote most people's best interest to stay healthy. The food guide pyramid is a way to educate the public on their best interest, so they can be healthy. The food guide pyramid is made not to harm others but to benefit them. The food guide pyramid is the best for the most people. This promotes each individuals own interests. The food guide pyramid falls into the argument for ethical egoism.
The food guide pyramid is good for a majority of he people, this will promote most people's best interest to stay healthy. The food guide pyramid is a way to educate the public on their best interest, so they can be healthy. The food guide pyramid is made not to harm others but to benefit them. The food guide pyramid is the best for the most people. This promotes each individuals own interests. Works Cited: Rachel's, James.
(c) 2003 The Elements of Moral Philosophy McGraw Hill pigs. 76-84, 174 Carole Davis and Etta Saltos, Dietary Recommendations and How They Have Changed Over Time, 1999, from Recommendations Over Time o AIB-750 USDA web Ellis, Lisa. Healthy Lifestyle Nutrition. web 's new Food Guide Pyramid shockingly removes recommendation that people should limit consumption of added sugars, web Mike. Corruption exposed: drug companies gave grants, consulting fees to panelists who issued new cholesterol guidelines that are driving demand for stations. Posted Jul 15, 2004 PT by the Health Ranger, web Neil M.
D. , Racial Bias in Food Guidelines, Magazine: Physician committee for responsible medicine. Autumn 1997. Volume VI, number 4. Eure, Marian. New Food Pyramid.
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