Who Invented the Food Pyramid and Why You'd Be Crazy to Follow It | Summary and Q&A

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July 26, 2019
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Who Invented the Food Pyramid and Why You'd Be Crazy to Follow It

TL;DR

The Food Pyramid was created based on lobbying efforts from the food industry and has undergone changes over the years due to pressure from various stakeholders, leading to misleading dietary recommendations.

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Questions & Answers

Q: How did the Food Pyramid concept originate?

The idea of the food pyramid originated in Sweden in the 1970s as a response to high food prices. Anna Britt Agnsäter developed the triangular model to visually represent portion sizes.

Q: Why did the American food pyramid differ from the Swedish version?

Lobbying efforts from the dairy and grain industries influenced the changes in the American food pyramid. The inclusion of a separate dairy section and higher grain servings were a result of industry pressure.

Q: What were the flaws in the American food pyramid?

The original American pyramid suggested high dairy consumption and excessive servings of bread, cereal, rice, and pasta. These recommendations were influenced by lobbying and did not consider individual nutritional needs.

Q: How did lobbying affect the wording and emphasis of the food pyramid?

The food industry influenced the wording of the dietary guidelines, downplaying fresh and whole foods, and increasing servings of processed grains. The introduction of "fun foods" and other changes catered to the interests of food companies.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • The first nutrition guidelines by the USDA in 1894 recommended moderation, variety, portion control, and avoiding excessive fat.

  • The Swedish "food pyramid" model, introduced in the 1970s, became the basis for later versions. It focused on basic and supplementary foods, but was improved upon by Anna Britt Agnsäter with a triangular model.

  • Lobbying efforts from the food industry influenced the changes in the American food pyramid, with dairy and grain industries pushing for their own sections.

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