years, you and I have been led to believe that good health is attained
by practicing the lifestyle advocated in the age old food pyramid. The
food pyramid was and is considered the holy bible of nutritionists,
dietitians and doctors.
The food pyramid was the foundation of
health. But what if the very foundation of health itself was built on a
false foundation? Obesity is a major epidemic in our times. People are
becoming overweight to the point of obese. Is the food pyramid a
contributor to this epidemic?
“The famous food pyramid is wrong and hurts both waistlines and health”, claims Dr. Walter Willett, in his new book Eat, Drink and Be Healthy: The Harvard Medical School Guide to Healthy Eating.
Willett is chairman of the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard
School of Public Health, a professor at Harvard Medical School, and he
heads some of the most important long-term studies of how nutrition
According to Dr. Willet, the pyramid
which was developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 1992, has
vested interest of the agricultural industry.
Dr. Willett further writes in his book,
“The thing to keep in mind about the USDA food pyramid is that it comes
from the [U.S.] Department of Agriculture, the agency responsible for
promoting American agriculture, not from agencies established to
monitor and protect our health.” What business does the USDA have in
coming up with guidelines for a healthy lifestyle, I wonder?
Dr. Willet very aptly said, “And
there’s the root of the problem, what’s good for some agricultural
interests isn’t necessarily good for the people who eat their products”.
The food pyramid is promoted widely
across the United States and the rest of the world. I remember growing
up with it in school and I still see it today on food labels, hospitals
In an article in USA Today, Dr Willet said, “The food pyramid is outdated and doesn’t reflect the latest food research”.
Dr. Willet is the best authority on
credible food research as he was involved in two of the largest
epidemiological studies ever carried out, The Nurses’ Health Study (238,000 nursses)
and the Male Health Professionals Study. These studies tracked the
lifestyles and eating habits of these large populations and the
correlations with health.
One investigation of women in the
Nurses’ Health Study found that those who followed the USDA food
pyramid were no healthier than those who didn’t. That and Willett’s
other research along with hundreds of other nutrition studies by
various experts have made him question some of the conventional diet
wisdom that originates from the USDA food pyramid.
Dr.Willet’s pyramid is known as the
Harvard food pyramid. The Harvard food pyramid advocates weight
management and exercise as its base. There is no mention of exercise in
the USDA food pyramid.
The biggest difference is perhaps how
bread/cereal/rice and pasta is advocated in both pyramids. The USDA
food pyramid advocates these food as the base of one’s diet. The
Harvard food pyramid advocates eating these food sparingly.
Another notable difference is that the
Harvard food pyramid advocates taking a multivitamin. Taking a
multivitamin nowadays is no more optional but mandatory. I shall leave
this topic of discussion for another day.
You can imagine why the USDA is
promoting the USDA food pyramid so strongly. The entire agricultural
industry was built and is sustained by the philosophy that simple
carbohydrates should form the staple of a healthy diet. 3 decades after
the USDA food pyramid was introduced, the United States and the rest of
the world is seeing an obesity epidemic that is spiraling out of
It makes me wonder why the governments
of the world aren’t advocating the healthier Harvard Food Pyramid.
Wouldn’t it be fantastic if we could start ingraining the modern
Harvard Food pyramid into our young school children. Children should be
thought that the base is not rice/pasta/cereal or bread. The base of a
healthy lifestyle is exercise and weight control.
By Paramjit Sidhu for The Correct Weight Loss Blog