My Healthy Plate to replace food pyramid in Singapore textbooks

Those interested in their diet will get a new tool called My Healthy Plate to help them make the best eating choices. -- PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN
Those interested in their diet will get a new tool called My Healthy Plate to help them make the best eating choices. -- PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

SINGAPORE - The healthy food pyramid, a nutrition guide that recommends how much of various food types people should eat each day, is being replaced here.

Instead, and those interested in their diet will get a new tool called My Healthy Plate to help them make the best eating choices.

The image shows half a plate of vegetables, a quarter of whole grains and another quarter of meat and proteins. It also reminds people to take healthier oils, choose water instead of sugary drinks, and stay active.

"The plate is a more visual concept that more people can relate to," said Parliamentary Secretary for Health Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim, who launched the new initiative at the Health Promotion Board on Friday.

The larger serving of vegetables is to correct unhealthy eating habits - people here don't have enough vegetables and overindulge on refined carbohydrates such as white rice.

However, the idea is not for people to take more fruits and vegetables than carbohydrates, said HPB nutritionist Benjamin Lee. While the board has swopped pyramid for plate, it continues to recommend that people eat five to seven servings of carbohydrates - equivalent to half a bowl of rice per serve, two servings of fruit and two servings of vegetables, as well as two to three portions of meat a day.

Dietary habits here could do with a change.

Eight in 10 students aged between 13 and 18 do not take enough fruit and vegetables, according to a 2012 survey on student health. And the National Nutrition Survey in 2010 found that even more adults - up to 85 per cent - fall short of the two-fruit, two-vegetable target too.

They also prefer refined carbohydrates over healthier whole grains, and love their sugary drinks.

Six in 10 Singaporeans have two or more sweetened drinks a day, adding empty calories to their diet.

HPB's decision to phase out the food pyramid follows similar initiatives in Britain and Australia.

My Healthy Plate will be in health education textbooks here in the next three years, and the board's public education materials by the end of this year.