Remember, if you will, nutrition education in elementary school. The visual tool used in these classes was a food pyramid. At the base of the pyramid were the foods that should provide the bulk of our diet and at the peak of the pyramid were items that should be sparingly consumed. Simple visuals that every young student could comprehend, right?
Well, obviously, the food pyramid just didn't get the job done. Obesity in the United States is increasing at such a rate it is being referred to as an epidemic. As a result, the United States Department of Agriculture is introducing an updated "food pyramid" to fight obesity.
A new "food plate" is being introduced to replace the old pyramid. This new icon of healthy eating resembles a pie chart (please note the irony in my typing here) that is divided into slices, or wedges, of nutritional value. With the largest piece of the pie being devoted to fruits and vegetables, much like the base of the now defunct pyramid scheme.
I'm sure much fanfare and hoopla will surround the launch of the new USDA icon of healthy eating. Close tie-ins to First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move initiative can be expected . A new website has been designed to accompany the new logo and provide further healthy eating advice. "Food plate" charts will be posted in restaurants, grocery stores, schools and workplaces in the hope that the sheer power of suggestion is enough to get people to eat healthier foods.
Clearly, the power of suggestion isn't enough to make people choose healthy, nutritious food. The governments own statistics prove it. The USDA reportedly spent two million dollars to DEVELOP this new icon of healthy eating and the accompanying website. Two million dollars! This is a government agency, employing thousands of paid employees. Did they have to go to outside sources to design a pie chart showing the US public what to eat? How much does it cost to set up and maintain an in-house website? Does this two million dollars include teacher training in nutrition? Does it even include the cost of printing and distributing the posters?
At a time when the US government should be "nickel and diming" it, just like the rest of us, they are spending millions of dollars to launch a new campaign in the fight against obesity. A campaign that sits squarely on the shoulders of a previous healthy eating campaign that didn't seem to have the desired result: a slimmer, trimmer, fitter American public. Honestly, don't we all know what foods are "good" for us without the government telling us?
The fact that the pyramid that predated the plate didn't seem to have much of an impact on US eating habits seems to have been lost on the USDA. The fact that throwing good money after bad has no impact whatsoever seems to be completely lost on the US government.