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    1. A Brief History of USDA Food Guides

      A Brief History of USDA Food Guides

      Download as PDF PDF?

      Many individuals remember the Pyramids – the Food Guide Pyramid and MyPyramid – USDA’s food guidance symbols before MyPlate, but not many people realize just how long USDA’s history of providing science-based dietary guidance to the American public actually is. Starting over a century ago, USDA has empowered Americans to make healthy food choices by providing a number of publications, food guidance symbols, and, more recently, a suite of interactive online tools. Explore the history of USDA’s food guidance on the timeline below.


      "Food for Young Children" and "How to Select Food"

      1916 to 1930s: "Food for Young Children" and "How to Select Food"

      • Established guidance based on food groups and household measures

      • Focus was on “protective foods”


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      A Guide to Good Eating

      1940s: A Guide to Good Eating (Basic Seven)

      • Foundation diet for nutrient adequacy

      • Included daily number of servings needed from each of seven food groups

      • Lacked specific serving sizes

      • Considered complex

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      Food for Fitness, a Daily Food Guide

      1956 to 1970s: Food for Fitness, A Daily Food Guide (Basic Four)

      • Foundation diet approach—goals for nutrient adequacy

      • Specified amounts from four food groups

      • Did not include guidance on appropriate fats, sugars, and calorie intake

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      Hassle Free Daily Food Guide

      1979: Hassle-Free Daily Food Guide

      • Developed after the 1977 Dietary Goals for the United States were released

      • Based on the Basic Four, but also included a fifth group to highlight the need to moderate intake of fats, sweets, and alcohol






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      Food Wheel

      1984: Food Wheel: A Pattern for Daily Food Choices

      • Total diet approach - Included goals for both nutrient adequacy and moderation

      • Five food groups and amounts formed the basis for the Food Guide Pyramid

      • Daily amounts of food provided at three calorie levels

      • First illustrated for a Red Cross nutrition course as a food wheel

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      Food Guide Pyramid

      1992: Food Guide Pyramid

      • Total diet approach—goals for both nutrient adequacy and moderation

      • Developed using consumer research, to bring awareness to the new food patterns

      • Illustration focused on concepts of variety, moderation, and proportion

      • Included visualization of added fats and sugars throughout five food groups and in the tip

      • Included range for daily amounts of food across three calorie levels

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      MyPyramid

      2005: MyPyramid Food Guidance System

      • Introduced along with updating of Food Guide Pyramid food patterns for the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, including daily amounts of food at 12 calorie levels

      • Continued “pyramid” concept, based on consumer research, but simplified illustration. Detailed information provided on website “MyPyramid.gov”

      • Added a band for oils and the concept of physical activity

      • Illustration could be used to describe concepts of variety, moderation, and proportion

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      MyPlate

      2011: MyPlate

      • Introduced along with updating of USDA food patterns for the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans

      • Different shape to help grab consumers’ attention with a new visual cue

      • Icon that serves as a reminder for healthy eating, not intended to provide specific messages

      • Visual is linked to food and is a familiar mealtime symbol in consumers’ minds, as identified through testing

      • “My” continues the personalization approach from MyPyramid

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      For more information:
      Welsh S, Davis C, Shaw A. A brief history of food guides in the United States. Nutrition Today November/December 1992:6-11.
      Welsh S, Davis C, Shaw A. Development of the Food Guide Pyramid. Nutrition Today November/December 1992:12-23.
      Haven J, Burns A, Britten P, Davis C. Developing the Consumer Interface for the MyPyramid Food Guidance System. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior 2006, 38: S124–S135.

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