Q & A from Author of Awareness of the MyPlate Plan: United States, 2017–March 2020Posted on by
Questions for Edwina Wambogo, Health Statistician and Lead Author of “Awareness of the MyPlate Plan: United States, 2017–March 2020.”
Q: Can you describe what the MyPlate plan is?
EW: The United States Department of Agriculture developed MyPlate in 2011 as the primary education tool to communicate recommendations from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
MyPlate is visual image of a table setting that reflects the recommendations of the relative contribution of 5 food groups to the diet: fruits, vegetables, protein, grains, and dairy.
Q: Why did you decide to do a report on the awareness of the MyPlate plan?
EW: Overall diet quality in the US remains low based on adherence to the Dietary Guidelines of Americans. The Healthy Eating Index score remains 60 or less out of 100
As the primary education tool to communicate the recommendations in the Dietary Guidelines of Americans we wanted to see what percentage of adults were aware of MyPlate.
Nutrition knowledge is a pre-requisite for healthful diets, thus we wanted to examine how U.S adults are currently fairing in their knowledge of this fundamental nutrition education tool.
Q: How did the data vary by sex, age groups and race?
EW: Prior to the pandemic, about one-quarter of U.S. adults had heard of MyPlate.
Women were more likely to have heard of MyPlate than men (31.6% v 18.5%) and awareness of MyPlate decreased with increasing age, from 32.6% among adults aged 20–39 to 16.3% among adults aged 60 and over.
A higher percentage of non-Hispanic White (27.7%) and non-Hispanic Black (23.1%) adults than non-Hispanic Asian (18.0%) and Hispanic (18.4%) adults had heard of MyPlate.
Q: What is the main takeaway message here?
EW: There is great room for improvement in promoting awareness of MyPlate.
Only about one-quarter of adults had heard of MyPlate; among adults who were aware of MyPlate, about one-third tried to follow the recommendations, suggesting that if more people are aware of the plan, a larger percentage would attempt to follow the recommendations.
Observed differences in awareness of MyPlate by age, sex, race or Hispanic origin, and other sociodemographic variables are consistent with previous research showing that being a woman, young, and having higher socioeconomic status and educational attainment are associated with nutrition-related knowledge.
However, among those aware of MyPlate, there were very few sociodemographic differences in trying to follow the plan, suggesting that the differences relate to awareness but not uptake of the recommendations once aware.
Q: Do you have plan to have any updated reports on this topic in the future?
EW: We examined the relationship between Awareness of MyPlate and self-rated diet quality and found they were positively associated with each other. Next, we plan to examine the association with measured diet quality, the Healthy Eating Index, and awareness of MyPlate.