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    Short History Of The USDA Food Graphics

    The Food Pyramid is dead. Long live the Food Pyramid. Today the USDA released the new design for nutrition guidelines. However, this is only the latest in a series of revamps over the decades, reflecting research and cultural changes in our lifestyles.

    • The concept of "food groups" appeared in 1916 but it wasn't until the 1940s that the Basic Seven graphic made its debut. Considered complex for the time, it suggested the number of servings from each of the seven food groups but gave no indication as to what a "serving" was.

    • In 1956, the Basic Seven was retired to make way for the streamlined Basic Four. The new chart had hard numbers as to what was considered a serving as well as how many were suggested each day. However, it still lacked distinctions between fat, high calorie food and healthy choices.

    • Debuting in 1979, the Daily Food Guide expanded on the Basic Four by adding a fifth food group to account for fats and sugars in moderation.

    • The Food Wheel replaced the Daily Food Guide in 1984, showcasing the food groups that would later be encompassed in the Food Pyramid. With three calorie levels and nutrition adequacy for different lifestyles, it was the most complete attempt to date.

    • The iconic Food Pyramid wasn't brought about until 1992. Using consumer research, the USDA added picture representations of how much fat and sugar was in each food group, as well as bring attention to the types of food included in each category.

    • In 2005, the Food Pyramid was upgraded to the MyPyramid Food Guidance System. Discarding the pictures for a simplified design, the modern pyramid added a vertical band to account for exercise in addition to diet. The goal was to get Americans to go online to get more details about nutrition. However, I don't think they account for human laziness.

    • This brings us to the new MyPlate graphic of 2011. Ditching the Pyramid in favor of a plate, the new nutrition guide adds words back into the equation...not as good as pictures but a step in the right direction?