A food pyramid is a pictorial representation of a diet that provides 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, United States Department of Agriculture (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 among the pyramids. The diets represented in the food pyramids are not intended to help a person lose weight. Instead, they represent proportions of what the pyramid developers believe a healthy adult should eat to stay healthy and maintain a normal weight.
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. The food pyramids are designed as a quick visual reference for individuals attempting to modify their diets. The diagrams are designed to be flexible enough that a person can eat a variety of foods every day while still getting what some consider a healthy amount of vitamins and minerals. The pyramids suggest a number of servings of foods already popular within a particular demographic.
Effectiveness Effectiveness definitions
There is insufficient reliable evidence about the efficacy of using a food pyramid to guide food consumption and make dietary modifications.
Natural Medicines rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate.
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The USDA food pyramid is based on the 2005 Dietary Guides for Americans, a joint publication of the Department of Health and Human Services and the USDA. The other food pyramids are based on the concept of the USDA food pyramid. The Oldways food pyramids draw from traditions of healthy eating among certain populations of the United States and offer modified food groups for these individuals. Proponents of the vegetarian food pyramid note epidemiological data suggesting that this diet may lower risk of chronic diseases and may increase adult life expectancy. Proponents of the Harvard food pyramid state that following these diet recommendations may help prevent various chronic disease states.