KAREN BANASIAK

USDA unveils MyPyramid symbol
The U.S. Dept. of Agriculture in April released MyPyramid, a new symbol and interactive food guidance system.

MyPyramid, which replaces the Food Guide Pyramid introduced in 1992, and its central message, "Steps to a Healthier You," support President George Bush’s Health-ier U.S. initiative that is designed to help Americans live longer and healthier lives. The symbol is part of an overall food guidance system that stresses the importance of a more-individualized approach to improving diet and lifestyle.

MyPyramid incorporates recommendations from the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans released in January by the USDA and U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services. The guidelines provide advice for people two years of age and older about how a proper diet can promote health and reduce the risk of major chronic diseases.

The symbol contains the recommended proportions of foods from each food group and includes physical activity as an element. Six colored bands represent food groups, and the widths of the bands suggest how much food a person should choose from each group.

The Web site, www.MyPyramid.gov, offers many interactive features, including personalized recommendations for the kinds and amounts of food to eat; a tracker that compares an individual’s diet quality and physical activity with current nutritional guidelines; and in-depth information about the various food groups, standards of measurements, and physical activity.

The 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans is available at www.healthierus.gov/dietaryguidelines.

Report shows obesity costs California
A report from the California State Public Health Office, The Economic Costs of Physical Inactivity, Obesity and Overweight in California Adults, states that physical inactivity, obesity, and overweight cost the state $21.7 billion in 2000.

Prepared by the Public Health Institute and Health Management Associates, a division of Chenoweth & Associates Inc., the report analyzed three major types of cost units: direct and indirect medical care, workers’ compensation, and lost productivity. It showed that out of the $21.7 billion, indirect and direct medical care cost $10.2 billion, workers’ compensation cost $338 million, and lost productivity cost $11.2 billion. About three-quarters of the costs were covered by public and private employers in the forms of health insurance and lost work productivity. For a copy of the report, visit www.ca5aday.com.

Graham Packaging produces distinctive bottle for POM
Graham Packaging, York, Pa., recently started production of a one-of-a-kind bottle for POM Wonderful pomegranate juice.

The new polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottle is made for POM Wonderful, Los Angeles, Calif., and it marks a shift from glass to PET plastic for the company. The plastic bottle will offer consumers portability and will also satisfy some of the retail and wholesale outlets which do not allow glass on shelves to avoid safety and breakage issues.

The multiple bulb-shaped plastic bottle looks similar to a pomegranate that is balanced vertically and also resembles the look of the fruit, right down to the "crown" on the fruit.

Ashok Sudan, Executive Vice President of Global and Beverage Business, Graham Packaging, stated that the bottle was a difficult design for a plastic food product container but that it was an attractive challenge for his company’s designers.

Stonyfield Farm expands healthy vending program
In recent months, several politicians have called for the removal of carbonated soft drinks, chips, cookies, and candy from vending machines in schools and replacing less-healthy foods in school cafeteria lines with more nutritious foods. As a result, some school officials have responded by removing these food and beverage items from machines and cafeterias in their schools and replacing them with healthier fare.

Stonyfield Farm, Londonderry, N.H., which has been replacing junk food in vending machines with its yogurt and yogurt-based products, recently launched its Good2Go pilot program at three public schools in Providence, R.I. The school-based breakfast and exercise program is designed to get children into school early for 30 min of physical activity followed by a healthy breakfast.

Children who volunteer to participate in the program must attend at least three sessions during the school week.

Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island and Sodexho School Services are also partners in the program.

by KAREN BANASIAK
Assistant Editor
[email protected]