Hot Topics: USDA Trades Pyramid for Healthy Plate
After years of trying to mold our diet into a pyramid, the United States Department of Agriculture has adopted a new graphic representation of healthy eating -- the plate. On Thursday, First Lady Michelle Obama unveiled the new plate icon, which is designed to help Americans make better food choices.
So what's different? The new "MyPlate" is a stripped-down version of the often-complicated and much-disputed "MyPyramid" of the past. The idea is to remind people that at least half their plate should be made up of fruits and vegetables, with the other half whole grains and lean proteins. A side of no- or low-fat dairy also is suggested.
The old food pyramid -- which saw several iterations since its original launch in 1992 -- had a bottom layer of carbs with a recommended six to 11 servings per day. The second layer was made up of fruits and veggies and the third tier was dairy and meat. But the most confusing aspect of the old model was the very top of the pyramid, which included fats and sugars. Since this section was reserved for the top, some people thought it was the most important and were confused with how much of the worst food group to consume.
Nutritionists across the country agreed it's time for a change from the outdated and rigid guidelines, as the country fights an epic battle of the bulge. Today, nearly two-thirds of Americans are considered overweight or obese, and childhood obesity has tripled in the last 30 years, according to a recent CBS News study.
"It's an opportunity for Americans to understand quickly how to have a balanced and nutritious meal," says Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "It's a constant reminder as you look at your own plate whether your portion sizes are right, whether you've got enough fruits and vegetables on that plate."
The USDA also offered these general healthy eating tips this week:
- Enjoy your food, but eat less.
- Avoid oversized portions.
- Compare sodium in foods like soup, bread and frozen meals -- and choose the foods with less.
- Drink water instead of sugary drinks.
What does your ideal MyPlate look like? Share it with us in the comments section.
Now here's a look at this week's other Hot Topics:
Cell Phones and Cancer: This week we learned our cellphones might actually lead to cancer, after all. The announcement from the World Health Organization (WHO) has sparked much discussion. Will you alter your cellphone use in wake of the news? See if your phone is on the list of the highest or lowest radiation emitters here. (The iPhone 4 reportedly emits "medium" amounts of radiation.) So what other household items should you be scared of? WHO placed cellphone use into the "possible carcinogens" group, along with coffee, pickled vegetables, gasoline and magenta dyes. CNN compiles a rundown of second-tier carcinogens.
Assisted Suicide Advocate Dies: Jack Kevorkian, 83, died early today after suffering an apparent pulmonary thrombosis when a blood clot lodged in his heart, according to The Detroit Free Press. Known as Dr. Death even before launching his fierce advocacy and practice of assisted suicides, Kevorkian passed away at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Mich., where he had been hospitalized with kidney and heart problems. In 1995, the American Medical Association called him "a reckless instrument of death" who "poses a great threat to the public." Jack Lessenberry, a Michigan journalist who closely covered Kevorkian's one-man campaign, offered a different view in The New York Times: "Jack Kevorkian, faults and all, was a major force for good in this society. He forced us to pay attention to one of the biggest elephants in society's living room: the fact that today vast numbers of people are alive who would rather be dead, who have lives not worth living."
Baby Boomers Mostly Likely to Volunteer: A report released this week by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the boomer generation does the most volunteer work. About 33 percent of all baby boomers say they volunteer on a regular basis, according to the bureau. That's the highest rate of any generational group and four percentage points above the national average of 28.8 percent. In 2009, 22.8 million boomers gave 3.1 billion hours of service to American organizations, the study shows.The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review has more details.
J.Lo, Marc Anthony Trek Across Latin America on New Show: Yeah, Jennifer Lopez is pretty hot right now. Fresh off People magazine's "World's Most Beautiful Woman" designation and her successful run as an American Idol judge, she announced a new show this week. On ¡Q'Viva! The Chosen, Lopez, 41, will travel with husband Marc Anthony and tour-director-to-the-stars Jamie King to 21 countries across the Americas, according to People. They will be searching for the "world's most extraordinary talent," Anthony, 41, tells the magazine. The show will be filmed in three languages and broadcast simultaneously on TV networks across the Western Hemisphere. The search for the talent begins in July.
Program Aids Boomers in Completing College Degrees: The Plus 50 Initiative, a new program from the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), is designed to encourage the 50-plus crowd to gain degrees from community colleges across the country. "When minds expand, options do, too," says Dr. Walter Bumphus, president and CEO of the AACC. "Learning is one of the best ways to stay and feel young, and community colleges are increasingly providing more support and services tailored to meet the needs of older students who want to come back to school." Thirteen community colleges across the nation will participate in the program.
Blogathon Follow-up: It's possible to blog your way through a life transition, as participants in a month-long community blogging challenge hosted by SecondAct blogger Michelle V. Rafter discovered. Not all of the 200 writers who signed up for the annual May blogathon made it through posting 31 days straight. But many did, including people in their 40s and older who started blogs to change careers, re-enter the workforce, find their passion or moonlight in something totally unrelated to their day job. More.com picked up a post essayist Rachael Vidori wrote for her East Coast Musings blog during the blogathon. Laura Tokie, who blogs at In My Little Town, had a post accepted by McSweeney's, the literary magazine. Three professional storytellers noticed and recommended short stories that Florida writer and storyteller Billie Oakes posted on her blog, The Billie Gram. Joan Lambert Bailey, recently featured in a SecondAct post about post-earthquake life in Japan, was invited to contribute to an urban farming website based on her blog about urban farming in Tokyo. Read more success stories in this blogathon recap.
Last word: "If you dedicate yourself to something, you can achieve it. It's simple, but it's true, and your age is just an excuse. Being in your 40s or your 50s isn't an excuse anymore, not after they see me do it." -- former Olympian Herschel Walker, one of 14 sports icons featured in SecondAct's Life After the Olympics Slide Show
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