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"We know Americans want to be healthy, but making those healthy choices is not easy, it's hard," said Surgeon General Regina Benjamin, who joined Mrs. Obama and Vilsack to unveil the plate. "We're trying to make it easier."
The guidelines and the icon were subject of lobbying by food industries who want to see their products promoted and not discouraged. Fruit and vegetable growers were celebrating their victory over half of the plate Thursday, while dairy producers said they were also pleased with the cup beside it. The president of the beef industry group National Cattleman's Beef Associaton, Bill Donald, said he is not concerned about the elimination of the word "meat" because beef is so associated with the word "protein."
The first food pyramid was introduced in 1992, with detailed descriptions of recommended foods and their portion sizes. The tip of the pyramid represented fats, oils and sweets, cautioning diners to "use sparingly."
After research showed the pyramid wasn't working, the department worked with a public relations firm and came up with an all-new pyramid in 2005 that was characterized by vertical lines of color and a stick figure walking up a staircase to symbolize exercise. At the time, officials said they wanted something motivational and recognizable. But the Obama administration eventually ditched that model, opting for something fresher.
Many nutritionists and nutrition groups praised the newest effort, crossing their fingers that people will listen.
Marion Nestle, professor of nutrition, food studies, and public health at New York University, said there are already a lot of symbols out there telling people what to eat. She said the new model isn't perfect, it's a good step forward.
"This brings it all together," she said.
USDA website: http://www.usda.gov/
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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