Heart Association CEO Praises New Food Guide

Nancy Brown says the new plate symbol is more consumer friendly and aligns with AHA's diet and lifestyle recommendations.

Nancy Brown, the American Heart Association's chief executive officer, praised the U.S. Department of Agriculture on June 2 for its new guide to help the public make healthier eating choices.

"Our nation's obesity epidemic calls for effective measures to help Americans make informed choices about the nutritional quality of their meals," she said. "The overconsumption of unhealthy foods and beverages combined with inactive lifestyles has contributed to alarming obesity rates with nearly 150 million adults and one in three children in the U.S. overweight and obese. Many suffer from serious health conditions, including type-2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and other risk factors for cardiovascular diseases."

The new food icon is a dinner plate rather than the familiar food pyramid. The change was made to lead consumers toward healthier diets and to minimize mixed messages about a healthy eating pattern and which foods should be included to promote ideal health. The new symbol is a more consumer-friendly format, Brown said.

The plate is divided into the basic food groups and emphasizes the importance of increasing consumption of whole grains, low-fat dairy products. Half of it is fruits and vegetables -- an important message, according to AHA. "These guidelines align with the association's diet and lifestyle recommendations. However, it is our hope that the program will eventually provide detailed information on healthy beverage options and establish robust evaluation to determine consumer acceptance and use of the new graphic," she said. "We look forward to working with the USDA to promote the new consumer education campaign and will continue to stress the importance of effectively balancing calories with physical activity to manage weight and improve overall health."

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