The Food Pyramid Is Being Replaced by the Food Plate. Should We Care?


The food pyramid most of us grew up with is going the way of Betamax. But you probably won’t be shedding a tear for the defunct infographic (bread and grains on the bottom, followed by fruits and vegetables, meat and dairy, and sweets and fatty treats at the summit). A few years ago, the pyramid was redesigned to look like a rainbow triangle that focused less on the four food groups and more on overall nutrition. It hardly made a blip on most people’s radar. The new model will come in round chart form. Like a pie chart, minus, well, pie.

The Times describes the food plate, debuting this Thursday (this is not it pictured), as a circle “sliced into wedges for the basic food groups and half-filled with fruits and vegetables.” Based on the new dietary guidelines released in January 2011, it is expected to be a vast improvement on the old model, which did not differentiate between, say, “good” meats like fish or lean beef and “bad” meats like bacon. But isn’t there a bit too much stock being placed in the infographic (much like the guidelines themselves, which are too sweeping to be of any real help to an individual seeking nutritional advice)? Is the food pyramid to blame for the current obesity epidemic? Fat kids surely won’t be saved by a pie chart. They can only be saved by eating less pie. Which means that a new poster on the wall at school is really just a tiny sliver of the equation.