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USDA to replace food pyramid with plate icon, source says

From Jennifer Bixler, CNN
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USDA to replace food pyramid
  • NEW: The food pyramid has been criticized as confusing
  • Official announcement is expected to come on Thursday
  • The new icon is meant to help remind Americans to make healthy food choices
  • It will replace the food pyramid, which was first introduced in 1992

(CNN) -- The U.S. Department of Agriculture is planning to swap in a plate icon for the food pyramid this week, an individual familiar with the new guidelines told CNN Saturday.

The new image, expected to be unveiled Thursday, is meant to help remind Americans to make healthy food choices.

"We presume that it will be divided into sections that will show you how much of different types of foods you should be eating," said Elizabeth Cohen, CNN senior medical correspondent, about the plate image.

The USDA said in a statement this week that the new food icon would be "part of a comprehensive nutrition communication initiative that provides consumers with easy-to-understand recommendations, a new website with expanded information, and other tools and resources."

It did not say then what the new icon would be.

R.I.P. food pyramid

The Food Guide Pyramid was introduced in 1992 and replaced in 2005 by MyPyramid.

"The pyramid, to put it gently, is not considered a great public health success," said Cohen. "It was confusing and divided into lots of intricate sections."

The original version is the widely recognized pyramid that shows a hierarchy of food groups. Grains, vegetables and fruits were represented at the base of the pyramid, suggesting they should be eaten often. Foods to be consumed in some moderation, like fats, dairy products and meats, were toward the top of the icon.

The 2005 version had vertical, rather than horizontal, blocks representing the various food groups. It also had a figure stepping up the side of the pyramid, reminding consumers of the need to exercise.

CNN's Sabriya Rice contributed to this report.