You may have noticed that the federal government launched a new food icon called MyPlate last week. The diagram is as part of a new, evidence-based initiative to improve the diets of Americans that we’ve written about before here on EBL.
The plate is a graphic representation of new dietary guidelines based on an extensive review by 13 nationally-recognized experts in nutrition and health. While that sounds good, we wondered what the nutrition experts at Cornell think about the new icon.
Senior extension associate, Jennifer Wilkins, Ph.D., R.D., is the community coordinator for Cornell’s Dietetic Internship Program and director of Cornell’s Farm to School Research and Outreach program. On the whole, she’s a fan of the MyPlate graphic.
For one, the plate does a better job of conveying proportionality, she says. “Advice to ‘make half of your plate fruits and vegetables’ couldn’t be clearer,” Wilkins said. And there’s clear evidence that taking this step alone will lead to a healthier diet.
The guidelines issued along with the plate – such as avoid oversized portions and sugary drinks – are simply worded and convey important steps to take to improving Americans diets.
But there is one aspect missing from the new icon, Wilkins said.
“The important reality is that food quality varies dramatically within each group,” she said. “ It really does matter how much of the grains are whole grains. It matters how, and to what extent fruits and vegetables, and grains are processed. And it matters if chicken is a breast or McNuggetized.”
The bottom line: MyPlate is a step in the right direction, but Americans should make sure they gather even more evidence about a healthy diet.
You can read more of Wilkins’ ideas about MyPlate and healthy eating in her column published in the Albany Times-Union.