Food Guide Pyramid for Older Adults updated

Tufts University researchers and United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) updated their Food Guide Pyramid for Older Adults to correspond with MyPyramid.

MyPyramid, released by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) on April 19, 2005, is an update on the ubiquitous U.S. food guide pyramid. The new icon stresses activity and moderation along with a proper mix of food groups in one's diet.

MyPyramid was designed to educate consumers about a lifestyle consistent with the latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans, an 80-page document released in January 2005. The guidelines, produced jointly by the USDA and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), represent the Federal nutrition policy.

The new update concerning Food Guide Pyramid for Older Adults highlights that adults over the age of 70 have unique dietary needs and that’s why tend to need fewer calories as they age because they are not as physically active as they once were and their metabolic rates slow down. Nevertheless, their bodies still require the same or higher levels of nutrients for optimal health outcomes.

The new research was published in the January 2008 issue of the Journal of Nutrition. The new pyramid now contains a foundation depicting physical activities characteristic of older adults, such as walking, yard work and swimming.

Researchers emphasized icons depicting packaged fruits and vegetables in addition to fresh examples, forms that for a number of reasons may be more appropriate for older adults. These include, for example, bags of frozen pre-cut vegetables that can be resealed or single-serve portions of canned fruit.

The importance of consuming adequate amounts of fiber rich foods, which means choosing mainly whole grain products rather than highly refined forms, and whole fruits and vegetables rather than juices is strongly advised.

The Modified MyPyramid for Older Adults stresses the importance of consuming fluids by having a row of glasses as its foundation. The authors note food and beverages with high water content, such as lettuce, vegetable juice and soups, are important contributors of fluid in an older person's diet.

The Modified MyPyramid for Older Adults contains a flag at the top suggesting that older adults may need certain supplemental nutrients and also serves as a reminder that some people may need to discuss this potential need with their health care providers.

The original Food Guide Pyramid for Older Adults, published by Tufts researchers in 1999, is widely used as an illustration in textbooks and manuals, featured in newsletters for older Americans, and in informational material prepared by the Departments of Elder Affairs in a number of states. Â Now that the USDA's Food Guide Pyramid has been redesigned to be computer based, the Tufts researchers felt it was important to update their version.

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