For the last two decades the federal government has used the Food Pyramid as the basis for good nutritional advice, which never told people how much of which types of foods they should eat. Many also criticized it for not taking into account the impact on insulin of some high carbohydrate foods.

The food pyramid is giving way to a simple, plate-shaped icon, which is sliced into portions for basic food groups – fruits and vegetables take up half the space. The plate symbol will be announced by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Thursday.

The aim of the plate is to provide US citizens with an easy-to-use reminder of what a basic health diet should consist of.

The fruit, vegetables, grains and protein sections are colored individually. There is a small circle next to the place for milk, yogurt or other similar products.

Last year, the White House Child Obesity Task Force said simple advice people could act upon for effective and healthy eating habits was urgently needed. The USDA says that, as a result, it will be unveiling the new food icon to replace the MyPyramid image as the government’s main food group symbol.

In a communiqué, the USDA wrote:

The new food icon will be part of a comprehensive nutrition communication initiative that provides consumers with easy-to-understand recommendations, a new website with expanded information, and other tools and resources.

The new design has been kept secret and will be fully revealed on Thursday.

Written by Christian Nordqvist