June 02, 2011

At last, the government has buried the Food Pyramid, which in its final incarnation had become more inscrutable than a wall full of Egyptian hieroglyphics. The Food Pyramid was Exhibit A in the case against giving too many people too much time to say very little. A simple idea—eat more of this, less of that—had been turned into what looked like a paint-sample chart with a strange person hiking up its side. Lord knows what kids made of it—probably nothing at all.

Now comes “MyPlate”. No need to read much, just look at the graphic and it’s pretty clear what the idea is. As one dietitian told USA Today, "We eat on plates, not pyramids.”

The potential power of the plate is that it preaches in portions. America’s diet problem is a portion problem. The average meal does not contain 50% fruits and vegetables, 25% grains and only 25% protein. More like the opposite. Whether the plate will turn out to have any more power than the pyramid to reverse the tide of childhood obesity is the billion-dollar question. But at least teachers won’t be trying to fight junk food with junk graphics any more.