Pyramid Steps Need Resurfacing Survey Says
Toronto–Canadian and U.S. food guidelines designed to encourage people to eat healthily are flawed, a new study from researchers at Harvard School of Public Health suggests. If the U.S. Food Pyramid, which closely resembles Health Canada’s Food Guide chart, was revised it would significantly reduce the number of people dying from heart attacks, strokes and other chronic diseases, the scientists say.
“The Food Pyramid is tremendously flawed,” said Walter Willett, chairman of the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health.
Prof. Willett says of the old pyramid: “It says all fats are bad; all complex carbohydrates are good; all protein sources offer the same nutrition; and dairy should be eaten in high amounts. None of this is accurate,” said Willett. Prof. Willett has designed a new health pyramid after assessing the diets of more than 100,000 men and women in the United States. Men and women whose diet most closely followed the new guidelines lowered their risk of cardiovascular disease by 39% and 28% respectively, he said.
The researchers found that men whose diet followed the guidelines lowered their overall risk of major chronic disease by 20% and women lowered their overall risk by 11%. Using the old U.S. pyramid, the researchers found the overall risk reduction was 11% for men and 3% for women.
The researchers did not study Canada’s Food Guide, which is undergoing a review. Prof. Willett’s new guidelines differ from the old pyramid and the Canadian chart in the way they treat grains, meats and oils. Like the U.S. pyramid, the Canadian Food Guide lists grain products such as bread, pasta and rice in one category although the Canadian guide adds, “Choose whole grain and enriched products more often.”
The U.S. pyramid and Canada’s food chart put fish, poultry and meat in the same category.
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