Agricultural Economics Department


Date of this Version

July 2004


Published in Cornhusker Economics, 07/28/2004. Produced by the Cooperative Extension, Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Department of Agricultural Economics, University of Nebraska–Lincoln.


The United States Department ofAgriculture (USDA) Food Guide Pyramid was promoted in its 1992 launch as a more detailed, yet easier to understand, system of guidelines and recommendations for daily food consumption. Although widely recognized by much of the American public, it has also been the source of considerable confusion. Recommended intakes are given by "servings," a unit that many interpret as the amount consumed in one sitting. This misunderstanding is cleared up only through thorough investigationthat entails locating information not available on the simple pyramid. Further, many have raised concerns that the placementof"fats, oils and sweets" at the top of the pyramid gives the impression that these are essential parts of the diet. The intended message of the pyramid was that the base ofthe pyramid would be the most important food group, the foundation of a healthy diet.