History of the Food Pyramid For Kids

November 12, 2012

History of the Food Pyramid For Kids

Ever since the early 1900s, the American government has been trying to encourage its citizens to eat better by placing nutrition guides to parents and then in schools. Because most of these guides were aimed for children, they had to be colorful and easy to understand. There have been several different guides since the current food pyramid for kids was released in the 1990s.

Food For Young Children

This was a detailed, text-heavy pamphlet aimed for parents and medical personnel first published in 1916. Different editions came out in the 1920s and 1930s. Pamphlets were published in farming magazines as well as distributed free to whoever asked for one. Unlike the modern food pyramid for kids, this was not a guide kids could understand. Most parents also tended to ignore it.

Basic Seven

First published by the United States Department of Agriculture in 1943, this was the first food nutritional guide to use graphics and posters rather than magazine articles or text-laden instructions. It was a simple pie chart divided into seven sections – Green and Yellow Vegetables; Oranges, Tomatoes & Grapefruit; Potatoes and Other Vegetables and Fruits; Milk and Milk Products; Meat, Poultry, Fish or Eggs; Bread, Flour and Cereals and Butter and Fortified Margarine.

Other foods were listed in small print under the section headings. This was a very cumbersome food nutrition chart in comparison the modern food pyramid for kids. Why butter and margarine were considered a separate food group possibly because it was a luxury and often was the only source of daily fat for a poor person. Fish was not considered meat but a separate food group entirely.

Essentials of an Adequate Diet or Basic Four Food Groups

First published in 1956, this brightly colored chart now listed only four food groups – Milk Group; Meat Group; Fruits and Vegetables and Breads and Cereals. The posters and educational materials featured very little text and large graphics. These elements would be incorporated in the modern food pyramid for kids. By 1979, the photos of food were eliminated but the four basic food groups remained.

The big problem with the basic four food group posters was that the meat and milk groups received the same visual space as the bread group and the fruits and vegetables group. Not every child or parent could read. They would look at pictures (if a poster had any) and see four groups all the same size and assume you had to eat equal portions of all four food groups every day.

The Food Pyramid

Finally, in 1992, the food pyramid for kids debuted. At the bottom was a base of various photographs of breads, rice, pasta and cereals, indicating that many more portions had to be eaten per day than for the other groups. The next layer was split into fruit group and vegetable group. The much narrower layer above it was the dairy group and the meat group. Above that, at the very top are the fats, oils and sweets group and the words USE SPARINGLY in bold black capital letters.

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