Why do few Americans know about the Nutrition Guide?

Only one in four Americans are aware of the government’s most recent efforts to get people to eat healthy.

This information comes from a study published Tuesday by the National Center for Health Statistics.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) introduced the logo, an image representing healthy eating, in 2011. It is called MyPlate. The image replaced the Food Pyramid logo used by the USDA from 1992 to 2011. Nutrition experts have criticized the Food Pyramid for placing too much emphasis on carbohydrates from grains and not enough on fats.

MyPlate uses a dinner plate with four colored sections for fruits, vegetables, grains and proteins, with a smaller circle for dairy products, such as low-fat milk or yogurt. He encourages Americans to make half their meals fruits and vegetables.

This image provided by the US Department of Agriculture shows the MyPlate logo, introduced in 2011 to encourage healthy eating.
A Mediterranean diet with nuts.  (California Walnut Commission)

A Mediterranean diet with nuts. (California Walnut Commission)

The study also found that around 10% of Americans have tried following MyPlate’s advice. That means the program, which costs about $3 million a year, hasn’t reached a large majority of Americans. Diet-related illnesses such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease have continued to rise since the introduction of MyPlate.

“This is currently the primary teaching tool that communicates direction to Americans,” said study lead author Edwina Wambogo. She’s a nutrition expert at the Health Information Agency. “MyPlate should do a little better.”

Food policy expert Marion Nestle said the MyPlate program doesn’t include an education program and doesn’t address many of the foods Americans eat.

A USDA official said the agency’s proposed budget for 2023 seeks to increase program spending from $3 million to $10 million per year. The idea is to help the MyPlate program reach more people.

The recent study said that people who called their diet excellentvery good or good were more likely to have heard of MyPlate than those who said their diet was fair or poor.

Dr. Vijaya Surampudi is a nutrition specialist at the University of California, Los Angeles. She said MyPlate leaves out important details about fats and the differences between vegetables. And Nestlé noted that MyPlate fails to show that vegetables, grains and dairy also contain protein.

The new study advises further research into why certain groups are less likely to know and follow government guidelines. He also said more research is needed to determine the best way to reach people with poor diets.

But the answer is not so simple, suggested Surampudi. People now know they should eat more fruits and vegetables. Beyond that, the message becomes less clear.

“As soon as it gets a little confusingpeople keep quiet,” she said.

I am Andrew Smith.

Jonel Aleccia wrote this story for The Associated Press. Andrew Smith adapted it for VOA Learning English.

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words in this story

excellent –adj. unable to walk or move legs and arms

fair –adj. neither good nor bad

confusing –adj. difficult to understand

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