America faces an epidemic of diet-related diseases. So it's time for the federal government to step up to the plate and help spread the word about healthful nutrition. As the U.S. Department of Agriculture revises the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, PCRM is filing a petition asking the agency to throw out its confusing food guide, MyPyramid, and adopt a simple, plant-based alternative called the Power Plate.
Since the first Food Pyramid was introduced nearly two decades ago, obesity and diabetes have become commonplace. About 27 percent of young adults are now too overweight to qualify for military service, and an estimated one in three children born in 2000 will develop diabetes.
"Millions of Americans are digging their own graves with a knife and a fork," says Susan Levin, M.S., R.D., PCRM's nutrition director. "We've never had such a desperate need for clear, accurate nutrition advice. But MyPyramid is confusing, and it recommends meat and dairy products despite overwhelming evidence that these foods are unnecessary and unhealthful. We've got to do better."
The Power Plate and the petition, filed with U.S. Department of Agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack and Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius, have already received media coverage in various outlets, including The Des Moines Register and the St. Louis Globe Democrat.
The colorful, user-friendly Power Plate graphic is based on current nutrition research showing that plant-based foods are the most nutrient-dense and help prevent chronic diseases, such as cancer and diabetes. The graphic depicts a plate divided into four new food groups: fruits, grains, legumes, and vegetables. There are no confusing portion sizes and food hierarchies to follow; the Power Plate simply asks people to eat a variety of all four food groups each day. ThePowerPlate.org offers more information on plant-based diets, as well an interactive Power Plate diagram and quiz.
The USDA's Food Pyramid, introduced in 1991, was a major step forward compared with past dietary recommendations because it asked people to eat more fruits and vegetables. But the Pyramid, and its later versions, recommend two to three servings each of meat and dairy products daily despite studies showing that these foods increase body weight, raise blood pressure, and drive up diabetes risk. The average American now consumes more than 215 pounds of meat a year--up from 144 pounds in 1950.
Learn more about this healthful alternative to the federal Food Pyramid at ThePowerPlate.org.