Sunday, April 24, 2005

not-so-great (food) pyramids

I don't know if you've noticed, but the new USDA food pyramid is really as stupid as all hell. Way to take a naturally intuitive symbol and turn it into a carnival tent o' confusing.

Here's a hint -- if you need a video to explain it, it's probably not going to be very effective, symbolically speaking.

I accidentally hopped onto this spoof site at, and it's really amusing and well done, (although at some points overly reactionary.) I especially like the fitness categories (ranging from <6 minutes/day to >11 minutes/day) and some nutritional tips, like "High fructose corn syrup counts as one of your daily servings of grains." Hee hee.


Anonymous Dan said...

I haven't studied the new food pyramid or the web site in detail, but as for the carnival tent o' confusing, it smacks of a result of design-by-committee, and that kind of stuff always mortifies me. (See the episode of "The Simpsons" where they come up with the character "Poochie" to add to "The Itchy and Scratchy Show", at one point requesting that the artist should "Rasta-fy him by... 10 percent or so".)

Looking past that, maybe any attention to the broad issue of eating healthy is good attention? That the point was just to change the food pyramid so that people talked about it, not necessarily to improve it. The irony is that if you are clever and cynical enough to get a Daily-Show laugh from the new food pyramid and why it is confusing, you probably already know about its multicolored good points and underlying information. But take someone who really has no clue about healthy eating and exercise, a look into what all the fuss is about over the new pyramid might do that person some good.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005 3:22:00 PM  
Blogger Nicole said...

I agree that it's important to call attention to healthy eating -- but it'd be better to do so with something that is simple to understand, yet meaningful. The old food pyramid makes sense because it uses the shape to sort out for the viewer what the "foundation" of a healthy diet is. In my opinion, this new one simply says, "Hey, here's a shape filled with stripes, and by the way, you should eat X, and you should eat Y." How is that helpful?

I think what they should have done is re-do the old pyramid, moving the fruits/veggies category to the bottom (which I've heard is how the European food pyramid is stacked.), which would satisfy what I imagine was their initial motivation -- to play down carbs in ones diet.

Thursday, April 28, 2005 3:54:00 PM  
Anonymous Dan said...

You're right. In trying to now emphasize that different people need different proportions of the food groups, they sacrificed the best part of the old pyramid which was the very clear "foundation" message complete with little cartoons of the foods. (Really, in addition to the previous horizontal layering, its the cartoons that are missing. The old pyramid was multicolored in the same way, just didn't look so much like a flag with those images superimposed.) And the sad truth is that most people won't ever get past the single image of the pyramid, much less scoure the web site, entering their age, sex, and amout of exercise to view their results.

I did noticed that, in my own reults, the amounts recommended are in ounces or cups, not "servings". Is that different? I always found "servings" to be a bit ambiguous.

Anyway, I guess I don't so much support the new pyramid as remain hopeful that people who eat too much junk food, eat no vegtables or fruit, drink no water, and get no exercise but have no idea what they are doing wrong will get some education on the issue through it.

Friday, April 29, 2005 1:47:00 PM  

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