Food Pyramid Evolution & MyPlate

by | Oct 5, 2011 | Health Habits, Nutrition Support, Uncategorized

Food Pyramid Version I

I say hats off to the scientists and nutritionists and media experts who designed and created the food pyramid. The food pyramid was one of the best things to come out of the USDA’s office. At a glance, the pyramid shape of the food pyramid suggests that some foods are good for our health and that others should be eaten in smaller quantities. The different blocks that formed the food pyramid informed us about the foods that should be on our plate.

Food Pyramid Version II

In 2005 the USDA came out with an improved version of the food pyramid. They added six colors sliding from the tip of the food pyramid to the base of the food pyramid. These six colors were orange, green, red, yellow, blue and purple meant to represent grains, veggies, fruit, oils, dairy products and meats. The width of each color strip at the base of the food pyramid suggests the overall percentage that food group should occupy on our plate.  Simultaneously, the USDA added some stairs on the side of the food pyramid indicating the importance of physical exercise or activity.

Unfortunately, the revised food pyramid contained no text so the people who saw it had no idea what it meant. In fact, most people simply assumed it to be the new logo of the USDA. Only those who had access to internet and bothered to check out the USDA’s website, figured out that this was the new food pyramid.


Faced with growing criticism, the USDA’s office came out with yet another graphic – a plate. The new graphic was called “MyPlate” and appropriately enough, depicted a plate divided into four sections one each for veggies, fruits, grains and protein. They also added a side dish of dairy products. The new diet icon was excellent. At least now people knew what they were looking at and understood what food groups should be part of their daily diet. However, experts argued that just knowing what food groups to eat, hardly improved the overall knowledge of the public. For one the USDA’s office had consistently failed to provide specific information like how much to eat. The MyPlate graphic sought to address this issue but only in the vaguest possible way. So instead of waiting for the USDA to deliver another bungled attempt, nutrition experts at the Harvard School of Public Health came up with their own version of food pyramid and called it the “Healthy Eating Pyramid”.

Food Pyramid Version IV

The Healthy Eating Pyramid was essentially the same food pyramid that USDA’s office created, but with a whole lot of additional information. In short, it addressed the drawbacks of the original food pyramid. The most immediate difference that was visible was the addition of a new base to the original food pyramid – a base of physical activity or exercise. The Harvard food pyramid had new foundation for daily exercise and for the first time, linked physical activity with food intake.