Friday, February 3, 2023

Very few people in America know or care about their nutritional guide

More than a decade after the United States Department of Agriculture stopped recommending the long-standing and well-known food pyramid, few Americans have heard of MyPlate, a plate-shaped logo emphasizing That is, fruits and vegetables should make up half of all meals.

Only 25% of American adults are aware of the guide, which was launched in 2011 by President Barack Obama’s administration to encourage Americans to eat healthier foods, but a government study released Tuesday by the National Center for Health Statistics The study found that less than 10% attempted to follow these guidelines.

Those numbers for 2017-2020 showed a slight improvement over a similar survey conducted a few years ago.

That means the Obama administration’s program, which costs about $3 million a year, is the way forward, even as diet-related diseases such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease continue to rise.

“Currently, this is the primary educational tool for communicating the guidelines to Americans,” said the study’s lead author, Edwina Wambogo, a nutritional epidemiologist with the agency. “MyPlate should be a little better.”

The results are not surprising, said food policy expert Marion Nestle.

“Why would anyone expect otherwise?” he wrote in an email. “MyPlate never came with an education campaign and it is already out of date. It only deals with healthy foods, says nothing about unhealthy foods, and is so far removed from what Americans actually eat that it seems inexplicable.

A senior USDA official said the agency’s fiscal year 2023 budget bill included an increase of between $3 million and $10 million to grow and strengthen the MyPlate campaign by making recipes and other ingredients more culturally relevant. has sought.

“We certainly want to make sure MyPlate and other important tools are in the hands of more people,” said Stacey Dean, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services.

The new study found that people who rated their diet as excellent, very good or good were more likely to have heard about MyPlate than those who said their diet was fair or poor. According to the study, of those who had heard about the guide, about a third tried to follow it.

MyPlate was introduced in 2011 with the support of then-First Lady Michelle Obama, who focused on healthy eating and exercise.

The guide includes a food plate with four colored squares — fruits, vegetables, grains and proteins — and a smaller outer circle for dairy products such as low-fat milk or yogurt. Americans were encouraged to make half their meals fruits and vegetables and the guide was promoted as a quick and easy-to-access format.

However, MyPlate left out important details, stressed Dr. Vijaya Surampudi, a nutritionist at the University of California, Los Angeles.

“It doesn’t differentiate between starchy vegetables and non-starchy vegetables,” she said. “It appears that there is no fat.”

Nestle said the nutrition guide also doesn’t acknowledge that vegetables, grains and dairy products also contain protein.

MyPlate replaced the USDA Food Pyramid, which was in use from 1992 to 2011. Although highly regarded by generations of students, nutritionists criticized it for promoting too many carbohydrates from grains and reducing fat intake.

“It was not the best set of recommendations in many respects,” Surampudi said. “Our diabetes rates didn’t go down. Our obesity rates didn’t go down. They went up”.

The new study sets out to investigate why some groups are less likely to know about and follow government guidelines, and how to reach and persuade people with poor diets.

It’s complicated, though, Surampudi acknowledged. In general, people now know to eat more fruits and vegetables, but beyond that the message gets mixed.

“The moment something gets confused, people go silent,” he lamented.

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The Associated Press receives support for its health and science coverage from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. Associated Press is solely responsible for all content.

Nation World News Desk
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