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USDA Ditches Food Pyramid for a Healthy Plate

Fruits and Veggies Make Up Half of Plate, With Side of Dairy

Food Pyramid History continued...

In 1977, a U.S. Senate committee published Dietary Goals for the United States. This revolutionary document stressed eating fewer of the foods linked to chronic diseases -- particularly fatty meats, cholesterol, fatty acids, sugars, and salt.

The USDA says it did not adopt these goals because they "were so different from usual food patterns." Others have blamed influence from the beef and dairy industries for delaying USDA action until 1979, when a watered-down version of the advice, the "Hassle-Free Guide to a Better Diet," advised more moderate intake of fats, sweets, and alcohol.

In 1980, the USDA put out its first official Dietary Guidelines for Americans. These guidelines continued to stress the foods that should form the foundation of a healthy diet. But in the early 1980s, the USDA began thinking more about the total diet, rather than nutrition basics.

By 1990, the guidelines began to promote eating patterns based on moderation and variety instead of on dietary restriction. In 1992, based on an icon already in use in Sweden, the USDA came out with its first Food Pyramid.

The base of the pyramid, suggesting the foods one should eat the most, was "bread, cereal, rice, and pasta." This changed with the 2005 "MyPyramid," which did away with the building-block approach but which many found far too busy and cluttered to be a useful tool.

MyPyramid is not actually dead. The USDA intends to keep it, and the many online tools that come with it, live for those who find it useful.

WebMD Managing Editor Miranda Hitti contributed to this report.

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