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Health officials make new pyramid

Oct. 3, 2010 at 4:43 PM   |   Comments

WASHINGTON, Oct. 3 (UPI) -- U.S. health policy makers say they're reinventing the familiar food pyramid to combat obesity and high blood pressure in Americans.

The new guidelines won't be released until December but are expected to feature new ways to communicate lessons about healthful eating and make the food pyramid "more meaningful and engaging," Dr. Robert Post, deputy director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Center for Nutrition and Policy Promotion, told The Washington Post.

Developing useful guidelines is a challenge, health officials say, since they must apply to myriad ethnic taste preferences while providing enough guidance for shoppers who have to choose between tens of thousands of products on grocery store shelves amidst ever-changing nutrition information, the Post said Saturday.

"This is the real test of whether this administration is serious about helping people to change their diets," said Margo Wootan, director of nutrition at the public health watchdog Center for Science in the Public Interest.

"We can't load people down with different messages," the USDA's Post said. "We have to focus on practical, simple, easily applied messages that show action that consumers can take."

An effective approach is critical, said Linda Van Horn, a professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University and chairman of the 2010 dietary guidelines advisory committee.

"What has been done till now isn't working," Van Horn said. "To do nothing more effective than we have means that five years from now we'll be in an even worse situation. And that would be unconscionable."

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