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Food pyramids

Related Terms

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Background

  • A food pyramid is a pictorial representation of a diet that makes recommendations of how much a person should consume from each food group every day. The most popular food pyramids in circulation are the Asian food pyramid, Harvard food pyramid, Latin American food pyramid, Mediterranean food pyramid, USDA food pyramid, and the vegetarian food pyramid.
  • The food pyramids are all comprised of food groups. However, the number of food groups in a diet and the frequency that they are eaten varies between the pyramids. The diets represented in the food pyramids are not intended to help a person lose weight. Instead, they represent proportions of what a healthy adult should eat to stay healthy and maintain a normal weight.
  • The first food pyramid was created and distributed by the USDA in 1992. In 2005, the USDA released a revision of the food pyramid that clarifies serving sizes and advocates for exercise as a part of a healthy lifestyle. The USDA website mypyramid.gov offers personalized recommendations based on gender, age, weight, and level of physical activity.
  • Though the USDA publishes the primary food pyramid, a number of other food pyramids have been created to accommodate the cultural eating practices of subgroups within the United States. One of these pyramids is created by the Harvard School of Public Health out of concern that the USDA may have created their eating recommendations with too much influence from food industry advocacy organizations. The Asian, Latin American, Mediterranean, and vegetarian pyramids were created by the organization Oldways, which advocates for consumption of foods based on daily, weekly and monthly eating cycles.
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Diet

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Theory/Evidence

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Safety

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Author Information

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References

Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

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The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.