June 2nd, 2011
12:36 PM ET
In an effort to fight America’s obesity epidemic, first lady Michelle Obama Thursday unveiled a new way for Americans to look at food and food portions. It's called MyPlate.
"We needed something useful, something simple," Mrs. Obama noted. "And that's why I like the MyPlate approach so much because when it comes to eating, what's more useful than a plate? "
Joining her in the announcement were Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and Surgeon General Regina Benjamin.
MyPlate will take the place of the current USDA's Food Pyramid, which has been around since 1992 and was updated in 2005. Over the years, many nutritionists have criticized the Food Pyramid as being too complicated for most Americans to understand. Officials believe by replacing the pyramid with a plate, eating healthier will become much easier.
"It's difficult for people in a busy life. You're trying to take care of the kids, you're trying to get meals on the table," Vilsack said. " Sometimes it's hard. The plate basically is a very simple visual that reminds you of what that balanced meal consists of."
MyPlate looks like a circle graph. It's divided into three parts: one half represents vegetables or fruits, one quarter protein, one quarter grains and a small side of dairy outside of the plate. It’s accessible to everyone by logging onto the choosemyplate.gov website.
The diagram is designed to be a simple way to show Americans what a daily balanced diet looks like. "It's an opportunity for you to have a constant reminder as you look at your own plate whether your portion sizes are right, whether you've got enough fruits and vegetables on that plate,” Vilsack said.
The percentages are based on the dietary guidelines set by the USDA. Healthy recipes, along with daily nutrition tips will accompany the icon on the website. MyPlate will also be integrated into the public school breakfast and lunch programs, so children will have a better understanding why certain foods are healthier for them.