New Food Pyramid Coming June 2, USDA Says

May 26, 2011 — In an exclusive interview with WebMD, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) says the replacement for the Food Pyramid will be announced on June 2 — and that the new icon heralds a “monumental effort” to improve America’s health.

Why a new icon? The pyramid really does not capture the public’s attention anymore, Robert C. Post, PhD, deputy director of the USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, tells WebMD.

“Consumers can look forward to a new, simple, easy-to-understand cue to prompt healthy choices,” Post tells WebMD. “You will get this monumental effort across all agencies as well as the private sector. A partnership with the goal of improving the health of all Americans.”

One of the few people who already has seen the icon is WebMD Director of Nutrition Kathleen Zelman, RD.

“This icon really has the potential to trigger an ‘aha!’ moment, where people say, ‘Hey, this is not that hard, I can do this,'” Zelman says. “These ‘aha!’ moments are what make people finally change their behavior.”

The release of the icon marks the launch of a massive effort to promote the USDA/HHS dietary guidelines announced last January.

New Diet Icon Marks New U.S. Health Strategy

You’ll be seeing the icon everywhere. Every relevant federal agency will be doing its part. The White House will play a leading role, coordinating the new USDA/HHS dietary guidelines with Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move initiative.

The old diet plan was to tell Americans what they should eat and hope for the best. The new plan is vastly more active and will reach people at home, at school, at work, at play, and especially at supermarkets and restaurants.

“What we learned is it is not just giving information, it is a matter of making people understand there are options and practical ways to apply this to their lifestyle,” Post says. “There will be a ‘how-to’ that will resonate with individuals. That is the behavioral part that is needed. We need to transcend information — ‘here’s what the science says’ — and give people the tools and the opportunities to take action.”

There are six how-to messages to guide healthy eating:

  • Enjoy your food, but eat less.
  • Avoid oversized portions.
  • Make half of your plate fruits and vegetables.
  • Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk.
  • Compare sodium in foods like soup, bread, and frozen meals, and choose the foods with lower numbers.
  • Drink water instead of sugary drinks.

Doing all of this at once may be too much to swallow. So the USDA plan is to stress one idea at a time.

First up will be the “make half of your plate fruits and vegetables” advice. It will be supported by a wide array of guidance on exactly how to do this. For example, one might add fruit to a leafy green salad. Or replace a sugary dessert with a bowl of fruit.

Post notes that the government can’t do this alone. Key to the plan is a myriad of private/public partnerships with a wide variety of businesses ranging from grocery to media companies.

“The fact they are reaching out to a broad partnership is important, because we need all the ammunition we can get to fight the epidemics of obesity and diabetes,” Zelman says.

~Daniel DeNoon

SOURCES:

Robert C. Post, PhD, deputy director, Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, USDA.

Kathleen Zelman, RD, director of nutrition, WebMD.

USDA and HHS, 2010 Dietary Guidelines, released Jan. 31, 2011.

 

CDC: More Americans Than Ever Are Living With Type 2 Diabetes

In a column in the Huffington Post Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (5/24), Marki Flannery, president of Partners in Care, wrote, “More people than ever are living with type 2, or adult-onset, diabetes. According to recent figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, diabetes affects 25.8 million Americans, or 8.3 percent of the population (including both diagnosed and undiagnosed cases).” In 2010, “nearly two million Americans were newly diagnosed.” Flannery went on to detail strategies for caretakers of people with type 2 diabetes to help keep patients well and their condition under good control.

Physician Makes Case For Lifestyle Changes To Slow Coming Tide Of Type 2 Diabetes Cases. In a guest column in the Des Moines Register Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (5/24), Dr. Robert S. Bar, of the University of Iowa College of Medicine, wrote, “Unless Americans drastically change their dietary and exercise habits, diabetes may play a major role in nearly 90 percent of all patients seen by US physicians in the next five to 10 years.” Of special concern is “a larger, poorly defined group of people that arguably could double or triple the current number of people with diabetes,” that is, those who have been “described by physicians as having ‘borderline diabetes’ or ‘pre-diabetes.'” Bar made the case for lifestyle changes to slow the coming tide of type 2 diabetes patients, such as exercise, losing weight, cutting out junk foods, and being aware of family history.

Small Dietary Changes May Make Big Difference In Diabetes Risk. HealthDay Share to FacebookShare to Twitter (5/24, Dallas) reported that, according to a study published online May 18 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, when it comes to diabetes, “small dietary changes can make a big difference in risk, even without weight loss and particularly among blacks.” Researchers arrived at this conclusion after putting “69 overweight people at risk for diabetes on diets for eight weeks with only small reductions to their fat or carbohydrate intake.” Notably, “at eight weeks, the group on the lower-fat diet had significantly higher insulin secretion and better glucose tolerance and tended to have higher insulin sensitivity,” the study’s lead author said. These changes were even more pronounced among the black study participants.