Last Thursday the first lady, Michelle Obama, unveiled the new nutritional guidelines designed by the USDA. The refurbished design replaced the nearly two-decade old pyramid with a plate, designating the major food groups. The plate itself is divided into four segments for fruits, vegetables, grains, and protein, plus a small section beside the plate dedicated to dairy.
While we understand that the new guidelines are meant to emphasize the basics of a healthy diet, we're left wondering whether this new design is a bit too simple. For instance, should foods and drinks labeled as sweets, fats, and alcohol be omitted from the average American diet entirely? A number of nutritional and dietary experts have offered their praise and criticism of the newfangled system — we've rounded up their thoughts so that you can judge for yourself.
• Marion Nestle Weighs In: An expert on health, nutrition, and food studies, Marion Nestle dedicated the latest edition of her monthly column in the San Francisco Chronicle to her thoughts on the nutrition plate. While she applauds the emphasis that the new guidelines put on eating fruits and vegetables, she believes that the USDA's failure to address "sodium-laden processed foods" in the foods to reduce section is a glaring oversight.
• Glenn D. Braunstein Applauds the Plate's Simplicity: In a blog post for The Huffington Post, Glenn D. Braunstein, the Chairman of the Department of Medicine at Cedars-Sinai, noted the ease in which he believes the nutrition plate can be taught to children.
• Weight Watchers Throws Support Behind the USDA: Representatives for Weight Watchers International have come out in support of the new nutritional guidelines, citing that the nutrition plate embraces a message similar to their teachings.
• Dr. Andrew Weil Highlights the Cracks in the Nutrition Plate: The Founder and director of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine, Dr. Andrew Weil, praised the USDA for pinpointing vegetables as the basis of a healthy diet in a piece for The Huffington Post. However, Weil also notes that the guidelines do not guide as well as they should. For instance, the fruit and grain segments of the plate do not differentiate between whole and processed versions of the food groups.
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