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USDA Replaces Food Pyramid With Healthy Food Plate

How people over 50 should digest the news

En español | The food pyramid is ancient history. Meet "My Plate," the federal government's new symbol of healthful eating, designed to show that nutrition should be simple and easy to understand.

See also: Eat for a healthy heart.

My Plate is a circle with four colorful sections devoted to fruits, vegetables, grains and protein, with fruits, vegetables and grains making up three-fourths of the plate and protein limited to a smaller wedge. A small circle next to the plate represents a modest serving of dairy — meaning low-fat milk or a cup of yogurt.

USDA new healthy eating food plate

"My Plate" is the government's new icon of healthful eating. —

As part of its $2 million campaign, the U.S. Department of Agriculture unveiled the logo today in a Washington news conference, calling it "a clear and unmistakable message about what should be on the American plate," as Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack put it.

First lady Michelle Obama, whose task force on childhood obesity was also involved in planning the new symbol, explained its design this way: "What's more simple than a plate?"

Mrs. Obama believes Americans of all ages can understand and benefit from the My Plate message of half-a-plate of fruits and vegetables alongside a small portion of lean protein. "It can be reinforced at breakfast, lunch and dinner no matter how old we are," she said.

The plate reflects the government's new emphasis on combating obesity and diabetes by encouraging Americans to switch to a diet that's heavy on fruits and vegetables and light on meat.

Alice Lichtenstein, a professor of nutrition science and policy at Tufts University, called the new plate symbol easier for older adults to understand and apply to their own dietary habits.

"I think it conveys more information than the pyramid," she says. " I hope [older Americans] will take it to heart because I think it will make a difference in their quality of life and in keeping them feeling good."

Next: New plate icon designed with over-50 set in mind. >>

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