Newswise — CHICAGO – The U.S. government‟s new graphic symbol of nutritional advice for consumers contained in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans will be a useful and intuitive way for people to eat well and improve their health, especially with the expert individualized advice provided by a registered dietitian, according to the American Dietetic Association.

“Time will tell if this new icon helps people to better understand vital nutritional messages of balance, variety, moderation and adequacy,” said registered dietitian and American Dietetic Association President Sylvia A. Escott-Stump. “If MyPlate can assist people in effectively adopting the recommendations of the Dietary Guidelines, it will be a success.”

The new MyPlate icon is a plate split into four sections, each representing a different type of food (protein, whole grains, fruits and vegetables). The sections vary in size depending on the recommended portion of each food a person should eat. A circle shape next to the plate represents dairy products, especially milk. Viewing the icon online allows consumers to click on each section of the plate for more information.

Escott-Stump emphasized that no one symbol can serve as a standalone consumer nutrition education tool, and praised the government‟s consumer education campaign that is accompanying the release of the new icon. “No matter how informative or intuitive the symbol, it needs to be combined with easy-to-understand messages, motivational and educational tools – all specialties of registered dietitians – that guide people toward healthy food choices,” Escott-Stump said. “A goal for this new icon must be to increase the „nutrition literacy‟ of all people,” Escott-Stump said. “The visual representations on the plate can support nutrition messages provided by registered dietitians and ADA.”

The 2010 Dietary Guidelines, released in January, are based on a comprehensive review of the latest scientific literature conducted by an advisory committee that included five ADA members, including the committee‟s chair, registered dietitian Linda Van Horn, professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University. ADA previously announced its support for the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, noting that, due to the epidemic of obesity in the United States, they are the first to address an unhealthy public, making their recommendations especially urgent for consumers and health professionals alike. ADA also called the Dietary Guidelines “a practical roadmap to help people make changes in their eating plans to improve their health.”

“As we have in past years, the American Dietetic Association was deeply involved in the development of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines. And we will use the Guidelines and the new MyPlate to provide the unequalled advice and services of registered dietitians to individuals and communities alike. ADA and all our members look forward to working with the USDA, the Obama Administration, other health associations and food and nutrition policy makers to develop effective nutrition, research, education, food assistance, labeling and promotion programs that help people get and stay healthy,” Escott-Stump said.

With more than 71,000 members, the American Dietetic Association is the world‟s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. ADA is committed to improving the nation‟s health and advancing the profession of dietetics through research, education and advocacy. Visit the American Dietetic Association at