Food pyramid loses its shape

by Sandra De La Torre

MCT Campus
MCT Campus

The original food guide pyramid was the prevailing symbol of a balanced diet in the U.S for decades. It was used as an educational tool for nutritional purposes and even went through a few transformations. However, last year it was replaced with a design called MyPlate.

Since 1916, the United States Department of Agriculture has created a number of food guides. They started simply, each evolving as more specific knowledge was included.

The original food guide pyramid was established in 1992 and, according to the USDA website, was created to make consumers more aware of emerging food patterns, hoping to “promote overall health and well being.”

Variety, proportion and moderation were also some of the factors the pyramid design focused on.

This being said, the original food guide pyramid received criticism because it was difficult to understand and it misrepresented the ideas the USDA tried to convey.

In 2005, the original food guide pyramid was replaced by a brand-new design called MyPyramid.

This design featured an updated version of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which changes every five years. The new name was meant to make the pyramid more personalized. A website was also created,, where consumers could search for more nutritional information with the simplified illustration. MyPyramid was different in that it included the need for physical activity.

However, even with its new features, MyPyramid was criticized for its simple design and lack of detail.

Instead of making changes to MyPyramid, it was removed and replaced with MyPlate last June. This was an important tool in Michelle Obama’s campaign against obesity.

MyPlate’s design features a plate divided into four sections, which include fruits, vegetables, grains and protein. A dairy section is also included, but is placed outside of the plate in a cup shape.

Like previous guides, MyPlate has a website and includes the most recent dietary guidelines, which, according to professor in the School of Exercise and Nutritional Sciences Mark Kern, is “considered the graphical representation of those guidelines.”

MyPlate was created to serve as a reminder to consumers to eat healthier and has received mostly positive feedback since being presented to the public last year. But, like previous guides, there is room for improvement.

“One reason I don’t like MyPlate is that people seem to think they need every meal to look like MyPlate, which is not the intention of the USDA,” Kern said.

Along with the guides provided by the USDA, there are also alternative guides that include the Healthy Eating Plate and the Healthy Eating Pyramid. These guides were created by the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Health and, while they are similar to the guides provided by the Department of Agriculture, they were created to fix some of the problems those guides have.

Some of the major differences between the Healthy Eating Plate and MyPlate are the details. The Healthy Eating Plate includes more information about the type of foods each individual should have and also provides examples and direction.

Both the Healthy Eating Pyramid and Healthy Eating Plate have a section that emphasizes the need to exercise.

Everyone has the choice to determine which food guide best fits his or her lifestyle. For more information about different guides visit the USDA’s website at or the Harvard School of Public Health’s website at