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Food Guide Pyramid

Fitness for mind and body.

The Food Guide Pyramid has become quite familiar to most Americans, although few follow the recommendations. However, it is a good set of guidelines to follow and it has now been updated.

The new Pyramid encourages people to figure out their calorie and exercise needs using a new government Web site: MyPyramid.com. At the site, you can find twelve different models based on daily calorie needs -- from the 1,000 calories for sedentary toddlers to 3,200 for teen-age boys.

The goal of the new government tools is to improve the health of a nation that has increasingly gained weight since the first pyramid debuted in 1992.

Today, nearly two out of three Americans are overweight or obese. In addition, a report in the New England Journal of Medicine contended that obesity, particularly in children, is trimming four to nine months off the average life expectancy.

Food Guide Pyramid

Critics say that the pyramid does not go far enough in making it clear which food to eat more of and which foods to eat less of; however, the guidelines are excellent and combining them with your personal likes, dislikes and common sense could go far in helping you achieve your health and wellness goals.

The new pyramid recommends 30 minutes of daily physical activity, with 60 minutes needed to prevent weight gain and 90 minutes to sustain weight loss.

Overall, the guidelines message is to choose foods packed with the most nutrition and the least calories; for example, bread made from whole-grain flour instead of white flour.

In all, there were 23 general recommendations and 18 suggestions for special populations. Officials decided that was too much to cram into the symbol and put the information on the new MyPyramid.com Web site.

Food Guides Around the World

Picture of Swedens Food Circle Guide

  • Canada's Food Guide lists foods in four groups. The guide, which was created to help reduce and prevent chronic disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancers, recommends eating a serving of fruits or vegetables at every meal.
  • The Australian Guide to Healthy Eating recommends 1 to 5 servings of fruit per day, depending on age and gender.
  • Sweden's Food Circle was developed by the National Food Administration and recommends something from each group every day. Also recommends you "Choose fibre-rich and low-fat products."
  • The United Kingdom's Eatwell Plate is distributed by the Food Standards Agency, and recommends consuming 5 servings of fruits and vegetables daily.
  • Japan's Food Guide Spinning Top uses plates of food both to show the recommended foods and to estimate the quantity of food that should be eaten.
  • The German Three Dimensional Food Guide Pyramid includes 10 guidelines for a wholesome diet.
  • Denmark's Diet Compass consists of eight groups, maintaining a normal weight, and adequate amounts of fluids.
  • Turkey's Adequate and Balanced Nutrition Guide identifies 50 nutrients that are necessary for proper growth and development, and displays four food groups.
  • The Balance Dietary Pagoda by the Chinese Nutrition Society advises plenty of water and exercise.
  • The Dietary Guidelines for Indians recommends that fruits and vegetables be eaten liberally. It also advises regular exercise and to avoid drinking alcohol and smoking.
  • The Korean Nutrition Society created the Food Guidance Pagoda and recommends two servings of fruit daily in a 2,000 calorie diet.
  • Mexico's El Plato del Bien Comer, or the Eat Well Plate, consists of three main groups: Cereal, vegetables and fruits, legumes and animal foods.

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