The New Food Plate and the Rise of Infographics


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The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently announced its replacement to the widely-despised Food Pyramid with a new icon: MyPlate.

MyPlate is a vastly improved aesthetic guide for eating. It’s colorful, clear and emphasizes portion control. The food pyramid, which was used for 20 years and updated in 2005, never made much sense to me. How big were the recommended serving sizes? And what was with the density of foods at the base of the pyramid? They made the pyramid appear crowded and confusing. The pyramid also lost my trust over the years when it was revealed that listed servings were influenced by the agricultural industry segments that held the most clout.

Although MyPlate needs progress in terms of its actual content (why does it list sugary drinks like chocolate milk in the dairy section?), it’s leaps and bounds from cheap brand cialis the pyramid from an illustrative standpoint. It’s a memorable visual shortcut that will prove useful for Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move initiative.

After all, we’re a population with an attention span shortening by the second. In today’s busy digital world, we need concise information at a glance. Our web is comprised of more than 163 million blogs, 234 million websites, and 50 million tweets per day. That’s a lot of content.

Infographics such as MyPlate help in that they use a single, easy-to-understand image to communicate complex data. They transform data jargon into comprehensible information. They also add creativity and color, turning what would be an otherwise boring subject matter into a standout, impactful icon. I like to think of it as an ‘arts meets science’? approach. Perhaps most importantly, infographics allow us to easily share content, leading to strong viral potential.

It’s no surprise that as the public continues to face a plethora of data, infographics will become more widely used by brands. Even those that already employ them such as news organizations like USA Today, powerhouse companies like Ernst & Young, and even the federal government, will continue to use them in different ways.

Equally important to note is that infographics can be used poorly, too. Excessive information (or insufficient information), improper formats for data and other mishaps can defeat the purpose of infographics, so it’s crucial to recognize how and when to use them.

In today’s whirlwind world filled with an overabundance of data and speckled with anti-obesity campaigns, it is only natural that the government would revamp the food pyramid. Kudos on this effort. Perhaps next time the USDA can work on the actual content, but at least we’re moving in the right direction.

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