I'd like myPyramid with fries, please.
April 19, 2005 10:15 AM   Subscribe

USDA releases new food pyramid(s). Instead of one cogent nutritional guideline for all Americans, the USDA has released a dozen because "one size doesn't fit all." Dietitians have advocated revision for a while now but change has been slow. According to author Marion Nestle, the nutritional guidelines have become highly politized by industry lobbyists: "My first day on the job, I was given the rules: No matter what the research indicated, the report could not recommend 'eat less meat' as a way to reduce intake of saturated fat." Newspeak for sweets appears to be discretionary calories; are we doing any better?
posted by fatllama (29 comments total)
I think this is a great post, all very interesting links.
posted by Mean Mr. Bucket at 10:23 AM on April 19, 2005

The USDA interactive web sites seem to be completely kaput at the moment, sorry. I suppose they haven't yet incorporated 30-60 minutes of physical activity into their servers' daily routine.

Does anyone else hate what their myopic graphic designers have done to the pyramid logo? The shape of the pyramid inherently implied certain foods should be more or less abundant in one's diet. Now, it looks like an abbreviated pie chart, which is only too ironic I guess. No sense of hierarchy, no stark graphic distinction (is the red sliver slightly thicker than the blue sliver?), no room for labeling or textural information. Just terrible.
posted by fatllama at 10:23 AM on April 19, 2005

I'm afraid all I could think of as I read the post was "Nestle makes the very best........chooooooocolate"

Which made all thought of sound nutrition go out the window.
posted by HuronBob at 10:27 AM on April 19, 2005

I got through on that site earlier, and it recommended that I eat a diet of 2200 calories per day. Didn't ask anything about my height or weight, just age, gender and physical activity.

If I ate 2200 calories a day, I'd gain about a pound a week. Doesn't sound like fun to me...

Also, I am still very skeptical of the fact that this is published by the USDA, not the FDA. The USDA is concerned with one thing: selling American agricultural products. That's why the old one was so grain heavy. Until the food guides have health before profits, I'm not following it.
posted by salad spork at 10:27 AM on April 19, 2005

I'm sorry, any food pyramid that dosen't have alcohol, nicotine, grease and sugar at the top, I can't take seriously.
posted by jonmc at 10:42 AM on April 19, 2005 [1 favorite]

Does anyone else hate what their myopic graphic designers have done to the pyramid logo?

Truly atrocious - it really blows my mind that they felt such a need to visually re-brand the system, especially in this direction which just promotes confusion. I can hear their focus groups now... "No-one will beleive this has been updated, the pyramid is still the same!"

Good post. Interesting comments.
posted by prostyle at 10:43 AM on April 19, 2005

Stupid. It no longer shows proportionality, and it's not a fact-based, best-practices health guide.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:50 AM on April 19, 2005

My pyramid features Dick Clark and Nipsy Russel, thank you very much.

Of course this whole thing's a joke. Government nutritional information has ALWAYS been a joke. The point of those lectures in grade school were more to make you a better consumer than better eater.
posted by Mayor Curley at 11:01 AM on April 19, 2005

Ditto Mayor Curley.

Except for the part about Dick Clark.
posted by Specklet at 11:08 AM on April 19, 2005

Strange...a while back they published articles in Newsweek and Scientific American saying that they were updating the food pyramid. Both articles included a prototype of the new pyramid, which I really liked...The only thing that was midlly confusing was that it had "good fats" at the base...thus suggesting one should eat more olive oil than vegetables.

It did seperate starches from whole grains, which made it a big improvement.
posted by duck at 11:23 AM on April 19, 2005

does it not work with firefox? are all you freaks using ie?
posted by Satapher at 11:52 AM on April 19, 2005

Does the new pyramid remind anyone else of the LGBT rainbow logo?
posted by PurplePorpoise at 12:15 PM on April 19, 2005

Previous discussion on the blue regarding the USDA's decision to revisit the food pyramid guidelines.
posted by purephase at 12:19 PM on April 19, 2005

It worked for me but I had to weight about 6 minutes for the results to be returned.
posted by iwearredsocks at 12:25 PM on April 19, 2005

Any pyramid that has milk on it--especially in the same proportion as vegetables (and everything else)--is idiotic. The idea that people consume this stuff by the glass disgusts me.
posted by dobbs at 1:02 PM on April 19, 2005

It worked for me but I had to weight about 6 minutes

Now that's funny.
posted by GeekAnimator at 1:07 PM on April 19, 2005

2800 calories for me ... no weight or height information needed??

*This calorie level is only an estimate of your needs. Monitor your body weight to see if you need to adjust your calorie intake.

You think? I couldn't find the current recommendations (which are age and height based) but assuming I'm an average build male. The UK version recommends aout 2300 calories. Or about 1/2 pound per week weight gain. Hmm. salad spork: Do you really only eat about 1200 calories per day. That's barely a 12" pizza and coke :)

Does this mean I can count my TV-time as exercise? (found whilst looking for calorie information on the internets).
posted by Maxwell at 1:08 PM on April 19, 2005

The mypyramid site design really sucks, and I'm not talking about just the wait times either.

I'm with salad spork regarding the FDA versus the USDA.
posted by mischief at 1:25 PM on April 19, 2005

Um, why is brown rice listed under "dark green vegetables"? And there's a chasm of difference in the caloric needs of a completely sedentary person and one who exercises a half hour per day; the pyramid makes no distinction. Boo, hissssss.
posted by postmodernmillie at 2:38 PM on April 19, 2005

Ummm, folks...hello?

This is crazy slow but it does allow one to enter one's age, sex and activity level to come up with a slightly more refined estimate.
posted by fixedgear at 2:47 PM on April 19, 2005

I entered 46, male, >60 minutes and when I did get a result, it was for 33, male, < 30 minutes. Nothing like rolling out a fucked website for getting repeat visitors.
posted by mischief at 3:50 PM on April 19, 2005

I'm totally turned off with the choice of MyPyramid for a name. It irks me to no end that Microsoft's branding of everything in their OS as My-this and My-that has permeated the social consciousness. Does it strike anybody else as being totally weird and implying a certain amount of self-centeredness? Surely that can't be healthy.

Meanwhile, it timed out while trying to retrieve my personalized pyramid. Now I will never be in shape.
posted by ddf at 3:51 PM on April 19, 2005

So essentially they've eliminated any advice about proportions.
posted by destro at 5:17 PM on April 19, 2005

My age and activity level changed while I was waiting for it to load - I may never know, now.
posted by mygothlaundry at 6:29 PM on April 19, 2005

I think that it should be more customized. Dividing by age and activity level makes perfect sense. They may even be able to segment it further by looking at your family.
posted by Napierzaza at 6:44 PM on April 19, 2005

The confusion of dozens of different recommendations, a pyramid that is hard to understand, the re-branding of a recognizable visual, the crappy web site?

Follow the money. People using the pyramid don't pay for Congressmen or hire USDA Senior Executives after they retire.

The Food Industry does.

No one except so poor mid-level bastard who got tasked to "do the job right" wink, wink, has any vested interest in this thing working. All that's necessary to is make a half-hearted apparently "good-faith" effort, and then spend the next four years on a study of why Americans keep getting obese and diabetic despite the food pyramid.

Follow the money.
posted by orthogonality at 11:33 PM on April 19, 2005

Follow the money is right. But i guess this new pyramid has a silver lining. I had never thought about where the pyramid came from until now. Supply-side nutrition advice from the good people who "help ensure open markets for U.S. agricultural products".

Of course the FDA would do the pyramid justice because there's no money to follow there, right? yeah. I cant wait for that day, so i can finally figure out how to get a 14-hour erection to cure the cancer caused by my allergy meds.
posted by sandmonk at 10:50 AM on April 20, 2005

I knew it would be bad, but I never expected it to be this bad. The thing is completely incomprehensible without access to the web page, ensuring that many of the people who need the information the most (the poor or undereducated) are the least likely to have access to it. And although I'm no milk-hater like Dobbs, the amount on that chart is really excessive. The Dairy Council or somebody has been pushing this "3 glasses a day" thing for a while now, with little to back it up.

PurplePorpoise: from the SF Chronicle, 4/20/05:
Noting the rainbow colors and spandex-clad figure, food consultant Clark Wolfe said the pyramid makes it look as though "all you need to do to be healthy in America is be gay and exercise."
I think it looks as if the more exercise one gets, the less one should eat. Anyway, way to go, American Agribusiness. And it only took you $2.4 million and four years.
posted by obloquy at 9:26 PM on April 21, 2005

people always ignored the old one anyway--this hideous confusing one will be the same. (and it's another logo to put on cereal boxes and stuff)
posted by amberglow at 9:30 PM on April 21, 2005

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