Instead of using the old stand-by, USDA is proposing a new “personalized” food pyramid based on your age, gender, height, weight and how much you exercise. The agency has called for public comments on proposed revisions to the daily food intake patterns that serve as the technical basis for the Food Guide Pyramid. 

Eric Hentges, executive director of the department's Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, says that the agency's proposed revision for the pyramid would for the first time help consumers tailor their diets to address their own special needs.

``The bottom line is we've got to do something to get a behavioral change,'' he says.

While some of the pyramid's basic recommendations will remain the same, others will chance. For instance, consumers still will be encouraged to limit total fat intake to just 30 percent of all their calories and saturated fat to less than 10 percent. They should eat just 300 milligrams or less of cholesterol, and 2,400 milligrams of sodium, and can eat some added sugars.  

USDA is encouraging written comments on the revisions, including:

  • Proposed daily food intake patterns (what and how much the Pyramid suggests eating).
  • Energy levels for proposed food intake patterns.
  • Nutritional goals for proposed daily food intake patterns.
  • The use of “cups” and “ounces” vs. “servings” in consumer materials to suggest daily amounts to choose from each food group and subgroup.

The Federal Register notice, published on Sept. 11, calls for a 45-day comment period.   Following the comment period, USDA will consider all input received in revising the daily food intake patterns for the Pyramid. Final release of the updated Food Guide Pyramid and related consumer materials is scheduled for early 2005. 

For more information on the Pyramid and the Federal Register notice, visit USDA’s Web site at  

You can submit written comments to:  Food Guide Pyramid Reassessment Team, USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, 3101 Park Center Drive, Room 1034, Alexandria, VA 22302.

USDA, Associated Press