This month the U.S.D.A débuted a new and improved Food Guide Pyramid that caters to an individual’s specific nutritional needs.
“This new food guide pyramid allows you to individualize the serving recommendations, while the other one didn’t,” said Allan Johnson, chairman of Howard University’s Allied Health Sciences Department of Nutritional Sciences.
The Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion believed that a new Food Guide Pyramid was necessary due to the nation’s increase in obesity and the lack of usage of the first Pyramid.
“Eighty percent of people recognized the old pyramid, yet only four or five percent actually followed it,” said David Herring, a nutritionist with the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion.
People can access the new Pyramid through the U.S.D.A website or just visit mypyramid.gov. There, they can find an estimate of how much food intake they need based on their sex, age, energy level, and height.
This pyramid introduces a new exercise component and is alleged to be inter-active and more consumer-friendly. It also promotes a limited fruit juice, whole grain and dark vegetables intake.
Even with the new improvements, health experts still believe that people, especially students, still need to become more aware of the new Pyramid and consult a nutritionist and dietician in order to maximize the health benefits.
Johnson agrees and he feels that the new pyramid should be brought directly to the attention of students.
“A lot of students aren’t aware. I’m not familiar with the governments new Food Guide Pyramid,” says Allison Smith, a student majoring in history at Howard University.
Shadeena Russell, a Howard University student majoring in Communication and Administration of Justice believes that students would consult with nutrionists and dieticians if they were visible on campus.
“If these resources were available, students would be more successful health- wise. I need someone to not only tell me, ‘You’re Overweight!’ Show me how to eat and address this issue.’”
Students have also attributed the lack of healthy and appetizing options in their campus’ cafeterias as a contributor to the unhealthy lifestyles of students.
“The cafeteria will have green beans soaked in butter. Then, at the salad bar, you’ll have brown salad with foreign salad dressing. Therefore, students will just eat cereal or a hamburger and fries,” said Russell.
In addition, many students contend that eating healthy cost more and that it is cheaper and convenient to buy less nutritious food.
“You can go to McDonalds and get a burger for 99 cents, while a good salad would cost you about $4 dollars,” said Russell.
Jeannie Fougere, a communications student agrees. “If students were able to eat healthier for cheaper, they would choose that.”
Even with the new improvements in the Food Guide Pyramid, students are skeptical that it will make any difference or motivate students to pursue healthier lifestyles.
“Students are lazy. It’s easily accessible, but who wants to log on and then put your weight in and your height and all this other stuff,” said Fougere.
“Unfortunately, in the black community the only time we’re motivated to exercise is if we’re forced to exercise by means of we have a diabetic disorder or high blood pressure. Most students choose not to exercise and would never go online and check their stats,” said Rushondra James, a broadcast journalism major from Howard University.
“A lot of students don’t believe health risks like heart disease can target them because the ranges are usually older”, says Smith. “But, in the end it builds up.”