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Understanding MyPlate

Today’s post is from special contributor, Dr. Robert Post, Deputy Director, USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion.

Empowering people with actionable guidance on nutrition is one way to help reduce the alarming trends for obesity and chronic illnesses.  On June 2, 2011 the USDA released the new MyPlate food icon and supporting communications initiative.  The MyPlate icon is a familiar symbol for mealtimes that is a simple  visual reminder for consumers to build a healthy meal among the food groups and encourages consumers to seek more information on how to do that by visiting ChooseMyPlate.gov.  MyPlate and its accompanying nutrition messages reflect the recommendations in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA).  The Guidelines focus on balancing calories with physical activity and encourage Americans to consume more nutrient-dense foods like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, fat-free and low-fat dairy products, and seafood, and less sodium, saturated and trans fats, added sugars, and refined grains.

USDA’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP) will lead a multi-modal campaign among public and private sector partners to spread the DGA consumer themes and nutrition messages.  Between September 2011 and December 2013 a series of “how tos,” action prompting messages, and educational materials will be used to promote each message at www.chooseMyPlate.gov.  Communication themes include: Foods to Increase, Foods to Decrease, Balancing Calories, and Be Active Your Way.  There will be messages for each theme and the initiative will start with the message “Make Half Your Plate Fruits and Vegetables.” In addition, the USDA is encouraging consumers to share what their plate looks like by taking photos and posting them on Twitter with the hash-tag #MyPlate.  Consumers can also upload photos of their plate on the USDA Flickr Photo Group.

With useful resources and tools for dietary assessment, nutrition education, and other user-friendly education information, ChooseMyPlate.gov provides practical information for individuals, health professionals, nutrition educators, and the food industry to help consumers make healthier food choices for themselves, their families, and their children.  These resources and tools can empower parents and kids  to build a healthier diet.

Overcoming health and nutrition issues requires great teamwork of partners at all levels.  In order to help reduce obesity and build a successful communications campaign, the USDA has launched a new partnership program called the Nutrition Communicators Network.  The program is free of charge and has two partner categories—Community Partners and National Strategic Partners.  Examples of Community Partners include educators, schools, community programs, doctors offices, and authors while National Strategic Partners include large, national organizations such as food manufacturers, media outlets, grocery retailers, or restaurant chains.

I will speak about this and much more at IFT’s Annual Meeting & Food Expo.  Join me at the IFT symposium Changing the Food Environment: What Are We Doing to Implement the 2010 Dietary Guidelines? on June 13th to learn more about the MyPlate icon, long-term communication plans, and MyPlate partnership opportunities.  We will also have booth (#7854) at the IFT Annual Meeting & Food Expo and encourage you to stop by while you are in the exhibit hall.

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