MyPlate Is Latest Tool in Fight Against Childhood Obesity

The first lady unveils new food icon

Posted: 06/02/2011 01:09 PM EDT
Filed Under Health

Nadia Miller, 34, tries to provide her kids with a balanced diet but remembers one time in particular when her 8-year-old daughter, Trinity's, favorite sugary treat was calling her name. "Sometimes it’s hard to say no," the wife and mother of two admits. "I’ll think, I can get her this one bad thing, and then after a couple weeks of shopping I’ll have several bad things." At 4'10" and about 120 pounds, Trinity's weight is constantly on Nadia's mind as she struggles to plan meals.

 

Complicating matters is a seemingly ever-changing barrage of dietary rules and nutritional guidelines. And how can we forget that old, trusty food pyramid which was supposed to provide a little guidance for a healthy diet. But this tool has done little to help real moms like Nadia feed her family. "The pyramid was not something I ever used much," Nadia quips. "It’s confusing for me to remember what foods went where, why would I remember a pyramid?"

 

Perhaps today’s the unveiling of the new food plate nutrition model will offer a bit more context for a parent's dinner-time dilemma.

 

First lady Michelle Obama, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Surgeon General Regina Benjamin were on hand to introduce a new user-friendly approach to nutrition. "MyPlate" replaces the old pyramid with a crisp white plate on which proper amounts of fruits, vegetables, grains and proteins are displayed alongside a serving of dairy.

 

"Parents don't have time to measure three ounces of chicken,” said Obama. “That's even confounded us as parents. I still don't understand how much protein is in which serving of food. We realized we needed something useful, something simple and that's why I like the MyPlate symbol."

 

MyPlate is the latest addition to the first lady's "Let's Move" campaign to tackle childhood obesity. The surgeon general noted that "one in three children are obese and the problem is even worse in African-Americans and Latinos."

 

Will the new icon be a useful weapon in this war on weight? The first lady cautions that "the new icon isn't going to end childhood obesity on its own. It can't ensure access to families in communities without healthy food choices. It can't force kids to be more active. That's still on us."

 

The new icon encourages Americans to eat more vegetables. That's news Nadia's daughter will be glad to hear. “Trinity does like vegetables: greens, corn and broccoli. But one her favorites? French fries."

 

(Photo: AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

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