Etymologies in Action


The Food Pyramid, Health Same; Fighting Child Obesity, Flickr.







The food pyramid is a nutritional based food guide that separates fats, oil, and vegatables in columns. The pyramid is looked at as a guidance system when it comes to what the human body DOES need daily. The food pyramid helps people determine the healthiest options of food they could consume each day. The food pyramid is essentially existing because it is informing people on the nutrients they need in their daily lives and it also assists in the amount of calories a person intakes(which can help watch/maintain weight). On the other hand, according to Marion Nestle(Practice in Nutrition), the food pyramid is a way of “federal protection of the rights  of food lobbyists to act in their own self-interest, and federal responsibility to promote the nutritional health of the public”(Abstract Paragraph, Line 7-9). In other words, the pyramid is not for the actual health benefit of others but created because it is another regulation that has to be addressed to the public for some sort of reassurance of gaining a lot of weight.

The food pyramid first emerged in public discourse, in Sweden, with the help of Anna Britt Agnsater. The very first idea of the food pyramid was to introduce “basic and supplementary foods”(Smallwood, Paragraph 1,  Line 10). The triangular shape originated because of Anna, as she wanted the idea of the triangle to model the portions of food in a better way. In America, it originated in 1992 with a little difference than the Swedish pyramid. The American pyramid had modification such as: separating dairy from fruit, fruit from vegetables, and so on.

One way the food pyramid is used is by incorporating them into schools for young children to understand the importance of eating healthy. The first food pyramid to be introduced into American schools was in 1992 and was introduced by the USDA(United States Department of Agriculture). According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, “nutrition education is concentrated within the health curriculum” (Highlights, Paragraph 1). Therefore, the food pyramid is something students are essentially required to learn about. Children, when taught about the food pyramid, come to understand the correlation between diet and health, choosing the healthier option, and general guidelines for when making a plate to eat.

Another way the food pyramid is used is by posting ads about the awareness of child obesity. The child obesity awareness is spread through public service announcements that used to appear on television commercials around 2005-2006 when it was starting to get familiar with children in schools. Simultaneously, the food pyramid advertisement is collaborating with the effective announcements of children getting big and the use of the pyramid to eat better. In doing so, it creates a social concern(for child getting obese) and also creates a solution(the food pyramid). The PSA is known for “changing public attitudes and behavior towards a social issue”(Wikipedia, Paragraph 1, Line 4). Therefore, the PSA’s job was to change the way students would view foods at home rather than just at school. In doing so, with the television ads, it got the parents involved and also educated(since the pyramid is not advertised everywhere that parents would work).

Dealing with the food pyramid, children would have to be the most affected by the term because schools are focused on increasing the children’s knowledge on good nutrition. Michael E, Fishman, Office of Analysis and Evaluation says that, “Ninety-seven percent of schools report receiving nutrition lesson materials from the food industry”. Meaning that children are indeed receiving the most information on the food pyramid because they are the most important target audience as they grow older with good eating habits.

Works Cited 

“Food Lobbies, the Food Pyramid, and U.S. Nutrition Policy.” International Journal of Health Services,

Muñoz, Kathryn A., et al. “Food Intakes of US Children and Adolescents Compared With Recommendations.” Pediatrics, American Academy of Pediatrics, 1 Sept. 1997,

“Factors affecting food decisions made by individual consumers.” Food Policy, Pergamon, 17 June 1999,

“Who Invented the Food Pyramid?” Today I Found Out, 23 Aug. 2014,