US advises a new food guide system

Limber up your fingers, swab your computer screen and grab a cup of your favorite &to=http:// - ' target=_blank>low-cal beverage. The federal government's new food guide system hands you the blueprints to construct your own detailed food pyramid, but be prepared to spend some time building it -- if you have access to a computer and the Internet, that is.

The new icon is based on the 2005 Dietary Guidelines jointly issued in January by the Department of Health and Human Services and the &to=http:// ' target=_blank>Department of Agriculture (USDA) to wide acclaim. For the first time, the agencies have made it possible to customize the pyramid to your age, gender and activity level and to decide whether to maintain your current weight or reach a healthier one.

In giving the pyramid a facelift, the USDA and its partner, the international marketing firm Porter Novelli, essentially turned the old version on its side. Gone are the horizontal lines designating food categories. Instead, the new pyramid represents the same categories using colorful stripes that run from tip to base. It also has a staircase marching up one side, a reminder for the chronically sedentary American public to be more active, tells the Washington Post.

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