Designing Nutrition

The food pyramid is ancient history. In a move toward better communication, the U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA) ousted the pyramid in favor of “My Plate.” Is this better information design?

The new design certainly gives viewers the image of their dinner and a reference point for the way their plates should look. A quick glance reveals that half of a dinner plate should be filled with fruits and vegetables. A longer look suggests that the protein shouldn’t be the star of the plate.

Nanci Hellmich of USA Today reports that nutritionists like the practical change from the complicated pyramid released in 1992, and quotes first lady Michelle Obama as saying, “This is a quick, simple reminder for all of us to be more mindful of the foods that we’re eating.” After all, we don’t eat in pyramids.

Simplicity, elegance, and ease of information transfer are hallmarks of good design. “My Plate” is a vast improvement over the pyramid in those areas.In thinking about my own food consumption, I’ll remember “My Plate” when I look at, well, my plate.

My initial question is whether the plate suggests that we should be drinking dairy. The guidelines accompanying My Plate suggest we might choose to drink water.

What are your thoughts about the design of our new nutritional model?

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