Updating the Pyramid

Healthy Eating PyramidNutrition Australia’s Pyramid has continually evolved for over 30 years, always with the same aim: to encourage Australians to eat a varied and balanced diet in line with current dietary guidelines.

In 2015, Nutrition Australia launched the new Pyramid with a fresh look and targeted health messages.

The 2015 Healthy Eating Pyramid depicts the types and proportions of foods the average Australian should consume in one day for good health. It depicts whole foods and minimally-processed foods in the five core food groups, plus healthy fats, as the foundation of a balanced diet that’s based on the Australian Dietary Guidelines (2013).

It also encourages drinking water, enjoying herbs and spices, and limiting salt and added sugar.

This advice is intended for the average ‘healthy’ person. People who are pregnant or breastfeeding, or who have a chronic health condition, food intolerance or allergies should speak to their GP or an Accredited Practising Dietitian for specific dietary advice.


Why update the Pyramid?

The release of updated Australian Dietary Guidelines in 2013 prompted us to revise and update the Healthy Living Pyramid to reflect the current dietary evidence base, population health messages and consumer needs.

The review process has included a literature review on the effectiveness of various food selection models, consultation with educators and health professionals and rigorous internal discussion.

While much time and thought has been put into the new design, the new Healthy Eating Pyramid is essentially a new twist on a consistent theme:

  • Enjoy a variety of foods from the five food groups
  • Choose mostly plant-based foods
  • Limit added saturated fats, sugar and salt
  • Choose water as your main drink

The new Pyramid maintains the original messages above, while providing more definition about how much each food group contributes to a daily diet. We also updated the variety of foods that are available within each food group, to reflect current dietary behaviours and encourage variety.

The new Healthy Eating Pyramid was released in May 2015, with a fresh new look to reinforce the key messages about healthy eating for all Australians.
 

What’s changed?      

We defined the food groups

Our previous Pyramids separated foods into three layers:

  • The larger ‘Eat More’ layer at the base, which depicted all plant-based foods.
  • The smaller ‘Eat Moderately’ layer in the middle, which depicted dairy foods (and dairy alternatives) and meat (and meat alternatives).
  • Plus the top ‘Eat in small amounts’ layer, which depicted added fats and sugars.

When we surveyed consumers, educators and health professionals, you told us you wanted the updated Pyramid to provide more information on the types and proportions of foods we should eat in a day.

So we separated each layer into the specific foods groups, to provide that greater level of detail, while still retaining the original Pyramid structure.

To do this, the ‘Eat more’ layer was split into three main food groups: vegetables & legumes, fruit and grains.

The middle ‘Eat moderately’ layer was split into the milk, cheese, yoghurt & alternatives and the lean meat, poultry, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds, legumes food groups.

The top layer now refers to healthy fats only. See below for further information.
 

Top layer refers to healthy fats only

For many years the top ‘Eat in small amounts’ layer of the Pyramid encouraged us to limit the total amount of added fats and sugar we consume.

In 2015 our aim was to mostly convey what we should eat in a day, not what we should restrict. As a result, the top layer now only refers to healthy fats, to share the important message that we do need small amounts of unsaturated fats every day for good health.
 

Strengthened the ‘limit added sugar’ message

The Pyramid has always included a salt shaker with a cross through it, to advise Australians to limit the amount they consume.

In 2015 we removed added sugar from the top layer, and added it to the salt shaker to convey the importance of limiting added sugars as well. Added sugar is mostly consumed in ‘energy dense, nutrient poor’ foods and drinks like confectionery, sweet baked goods and sugary drinks.

So this icon promotes the message to choose whole foods and minimally-processed foods and drinks which have limited or no added sugars or salt.

Click for more information.
 

Added ‘enjoy herbs and spices’

Enjoying nutritious food is the key to maintaining healthy eating habits for life. Fresh, dried or ground herbs and spices are an easy and affordable way to add flavour to meals instead of using sugar or salt.

This simple reminder to 'enjoy herbs and spices' is our way of encouraging Australians to cook more, experiment with food and find new flavours that they love!
 

Removed the physical activity layer

In 2004 a ‘Move more’ layer was added to the bottom of the Pyramid to promote the role of physical activity in maintaining good health. Pairs of legs were placed underneath the Pyramid, doing various activities like walking, running, dancing, kicking a football and roller blading.

In 2015 we removed the ‘Move more’ layer to renew our focus on food and nutrition as the essential message of the Pyramid. However we still promote physical activity with the new tagline ‘Enjoy a variety of foods and be active every day’.
 

Changed the name

After removing the ‘Move more’ layer in 2015 we renamed the Healthy Living Pyramid to reflect our renewed focus on food and nutrition messages only.

The new Healthy Eating Pyramid portrays a very positive message about the types and proportions of food we should aim to eat each day, as the foundation of a healthy and balanced diet.
 

Read more about the new Healthy Eating Pyramid.
 

Acknowledgments

The Pyramid review was made possible with the support of the following people and organisations:

  • Lucinda Hancock (Executive Officer), Caitlin Syrett (Community Education Services Coordinator) and Zoe Taylor (Senior Project Officer) of Nutrition Australia Vic Division which lead the project.
  • Staff and management of all divisions of Nutrition Australia who provided input, consultation and ongoing support.
  • Everyone who completed the consumer surveys, and who provided their feedback on the early design options. In particular, Dairy Australia, Egg Nutrition Council, Grains and Legumes Nutrition Council, Meat and Livestock Association, Horticulture Australia, Nuts for Life and Avocado Nutrition for their submissions.
  • Dairy Australia and the Australian Olive Association for providing financial support.
  • Bite Communications which provided public relations support for the May launch
  • MBE Carlton which printed the posters and magnets

 

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