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myplate usda orlando Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen along with Bobby Sena celebrate the first anniversary of the Myplate food icon and highlight MiPlato at the Caribbean Supercenter, in Orlando, Florida, on Friday, June 15, 2012. (USDA photo by Debbie Hendricks)

MyPlate Turns One

USDA celebrates first anniversary of new dietary guide

By Topanga Sena | June 18 , 2012
The Food Pyramid (top) was replaced last year by MyPlate as the government's guide for healthy eating. (Images courtesy USDA)
The Food Pyramid (top) was replaced last year by MyPlate as the government's guide for healthy eating. (Images courtesy USDA)

For decades, kids and adults alike learned about a balanced diet from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Pyramid. But after years of tweaks and updates, the USDA decided it was time for something new. So last June, the agency unveiled a new guide called MyPlate to inspire families to prioritize food choices and eat better.

On Friday, the USDA celebrated the one-year anniversary of MyPlate with an event at the Caribbean Supercenter in Orlando, Florida.

One of the speakers was Deputy Agriculture Secretary Kathleen Merrigan. She came to Orlando to highlight the success of MyPlate, talk about the importance of exercising and eating healthy, and announce a month full of nutrition events and promotions to mark MyPlate's birthday.

"The simplicity of looking at the plate and seeing that half of your plate should be fruits and vegetables has really worked," Kathleen Merrigan told the Kids Press Corps. "People are responding very positively to the message and we are for the first time starting to see leveling off of obesity numbers in this country."

MyPlate was developed as a result of a White House Childhood Obesity Task Force report released in 2010. The report challenged the USDA to develop an easy-to-understand visual guide to inspire consumers to choose healthier foods at mealtimes. The MyPlate graphic replaced the Food Pyramid as the government's primary food group symbol.

Since it debuted, there have been more than seven million downloads of MyPlate graphics and more than 700,000 registered users of the MyPlate SuperTracker. The SuperTracker is a web-based tool that helps gauge a user's diet and physical activity.

"I just talked to a woman here at this market saying that MyPlate has helped her understand a healthy diet, which she had been struggling with for years and she lost 30 pounds and changed the diet of her children significantly, so that they are healthier and less prone to mood swings," Merrigan said. "When I travel across the country, I get to hear individual real-life stories from people about what a difference it's making."

The USDA has also partnered with more than 6,000 community programs that have promoted the recommendations found in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

One of those programs is Share Our Strength, a national non-profit organization with the goal of ending childhood hunger in the United States. Share Our Strength has partnered with the USDA to provide meal programs and increase access to children who are hungry in the summer months.

"While we are trying to increase the summer feeding programs, it's still not reaching all the families in need," Merrigan said. "All of us need to work with our food banks, our churches, and our summer feeding programs to make sure that no one in this country goes hungry."

For more information on MyPlate resources and to join the MyPlate First Year Birthday Celebration, visit the MyPlate website.

Editor's note: Bobby Sena, featured in the photo at the top of this story, is Kid Reporter Topanga Sena's brother. Bobby was part of the USDA event in Orlando as the student ambassador of the year for Fuel Up to Play 60, a program sponsored by the National Football League (NFL) that encourages kids to be active for at least 60 minutes every day.

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