September 28, 2005
USDA to unveil child-friendly food pyramid
By Christopher Doering
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A kids' food pyramidfeaturing an Internet rocket game and school study guides
be unveiled by the U.S. Agriculture Department on Wednesday
help children make better eating choices.
The child-friendly version of the government's iconic Food
Guide Pyramid, the first one for kids since 1999, aims to
combat U.S. obesity by promoting more physical exercise and
better diets. About two-thirds of American adults and
percent of children are overweight.
The old food pyramid is readily recognized by most
Americans from breakfast cereal boxes, lunchroom posters
"(This is) designed for children to make it easier to
access the nutrition and physical activity guidance," said
spokeswoman Jean Daniel. "We need to get information in the
hands of children and their teachers and their parents."
In April, USDA redesigned its well-known Food Guide
Pyramid. Unlike the old static, one-dimensional pyramid,
new version directed consumers to an Internet site to
among 12 pyramids that calculate daily diet needs based on
activity and gender.
The kids' food pyramid will be similar to the adult one
issued by the USDA earlier this year, but it will be more
interactive and graphically appealing to children. Study
also will be distributed to teachers to help promote the
pyramid in the classroom.
The child-friendly version will include a Web-based
spaceship game that aims to show children the correct
food consumption and physical activity they need.
"The game actually teaches children how to incorporate the
recommendations" from the food pyramid, said Daniel.
The USDA declined to release more details on the pyramid
until it was unveiled by Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns
Wednesday at a Virginia elementary school.
Critics contend federal funding to promote nutrition among
kids would be better spent on a major mass media campaign.
"The USDA is trying to do nutrition education on the
cheap," said Michael Jacobson, executive director for the
Center for Science in the Public Interest, of the new kids'
"What's lacking is the political will. The administration
doesn't have the guts, and Congress wouldn't let it even if
did criticize foods like french fries and soda pop," he
The new food symbol released this year, MyPyramid, was the
first change to the controversial icon developed in 1992.
It was criticized by some nutrition experts for being too
general and failing to hold the industry more accountable
high-fat, high-calorie products and large portions of food.
new pyramid for adults also requires the use of a computer,
which many poor Americans lack.