The Food “Pyramid” Changes Over the Last Century

The Food “Pyramid” Changes Over the Last Century

1916: Food For Young Children

USDA first food guide

Food classified into five groups:


Veggies and Fruits

Milk and Meat

Fats and Fatty Foods

Sugars and Sugary Foods

1917: How To Select Foods

Came out one year later

Expanded the food guide into a 14 page pamphlet

1943: The Basic Seven

Suggested number of servings per food group

Did not include serving sizes

Included seven food groups

milk and milk products

meat, poultry, fish, eggs, beans, peas and nuts

bread, flour and cereals

leafy green and yellow vegetables

potatoes and sweet potatoes

citrus, tomato, cabbage and salad greens

butter and margarine

1956: The Basic Four

Simplified the “Basic Seven”

Included serving sizes in four food groups



Veggies and Fruits


1979: Hassle-Free Guide To A Better Diet

Kept the “Basic Four”

Added moderate consumption of an additional group: Fats, sweets, and alcohol

1984: Food Wheel – A Pattern For Daily Food Choices

A collaboration of the USDA and the Red Cross

Included amounts of foods for three different calorie levels

1992: Food Guide Pyramid

The one most people remember

Split the servings into proportions of a pyramid

What could be some problems with this model?

2005: MyPyramid Food Guidance System

Simplified the food pyramid

Added a band for oils

Includes representation of physical activity

What are some advantages and disadvantages for this model?

2011: MyPlate

Iconic food guide easier to measure servings for each group

Emphasizes five food groups:




Protein (not meats)

Dairy (not milk)

What are the major changes between this model and the MyPyramid model? Why were these changes made?

How does this relate to Visual Rhetoric?

The food guide has changed to fit the purposes of nutrition today

Healthy eating and exercise are emphasized today

MyPlate is available online as a “nutrition tracker” to fit with the advancements in technology

The “Basic Seven” are no longer appropriate for the purposes of nutrition today

MyPlate offers more of an appeal to the eye than the data and facts listed in earlier food guides

How does this help me understand Visual Rhetoric?

Certain visuals are inappropriate for certain purposes (The “Basic Seven” are not appropriate for today’s nutrition standards)

Make sure your visuals fit your purpose

There are good visuals and appropriate visuals…Use the latter!

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