Food pyramid
Joe Raedle  /  Getty Images file
Based on federal dietary guidelines, the colorful pyramid appeared in 2005, replacing an old one that most people recognized but hardly anyone heeded, surveys revealed.
updated 1/11/2007 7:53:21 PM ET 2007-01-12T00:53:21

The government’s new food pyramid is finally headed to supermarkets after two years of being confined largely to the Internet.

The triangle-shaped guide for healthy eating will be promoted in 2,000 stores in 17 states, reaching millions of grocery shoppers, officials announced Thursday. More supermarket chains are expected to join the campaign, which is being paid for by food companies and stores.

The industry makes no apology for any of its products, even those full of fat or sodium, said Cal Dooley, who heads the Grocery Manufacturers of America and Food Products Association.

“We also know we have a whole host of products that are meeting the guidelines today,” Dooley said.

Eating food advertised as fitting into the pyramid will make people healthier, he said.

Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns endorsed the campaign. “It’s a powerful way to extend the reach of the federal nutrition guidance system,” he said at a news conference with Dooley and other industry officials.

People want to learn how to eat healthier, but they are starved for time, said Tim Hammonds, president and CEO of the Food Marketing Institute, which represents supermarkets.

The officials said they don’t know how much stores and companies will spend on the campaign.

A critic called the effort a publicity stunt and questioned whether the food pyramid campaign would reach many people or make them healthier.

“This program won’t undermine Americans’ diets, but it won’t significantly improve people’s diets,” said Michael Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest. “It’s a cute, silly little thing. It’s not a serious government action.”

Based on federal dietary guidelines, the rainbow-colored pyramid appeared in 2005, replacing an old pyramid that most people recognized but that hardly anyone followed, surveys showed.

The old pyramid provided all the information people needed in an image they could clip out and stick on the fridge.

The new pyramid doesn’t spell out what foods to eat or how much to put on your plate. It’s supposed to be a motivational symbol, like a Nike swoosh, directing people to a Web site. The Agriculture Department also has a kids’ food pyramid and a Spanish-language pyramid.

Here is what the food pyramid says should be eaten on a 2,000-calorie daily diet:

  • 3 cups of fat-free or lowfat milk or the equivalent amount of cheese.
  • 2½ cups of vegetables.
  • 2 cups of fruit.
  • 6 ounces of grains, half of them whole grains.
  • 5½ ounces of meat or beans.

Store chains in the campaign are Publix Supermarkets Inc., the central region of Supervalu Inc., Brookshire Grocery Store Co., Giant Eagle Inc. and Raley’s.

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