Harvard Heart Letter

The riddle of MyPyramid

The new food pyramid makes a mystery of healthful eating.

In April 2005, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) unveiled its long-awaited replacement for the outdated food pyramid. The USDA repainted and redecorated the old Food Guide Pyramid and gave it a jazzier name, MyPyramid. But the agency didn't carry out the structural repairs needed to make it hold up to its vital mission — offering clear information on strategies for healthful eating.

The food pyramid is supposed to visually represent the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, a document that is updated every five years. The most recent version was published in January 2005. The pyramid that followed three months later was "very disappointing, a poor picture of the guidelines," says Dr. Carlos Camargo, an associate professor of medicine and epidemiology at Harvard. He was a member of the 13-person committee that provided scientific advice to the federal government regarding the 2005 Dietary Guidelines.

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