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Origins of the food pyramid

The first visual representation of dietary recommendations originated in Sweden in the 1970s in the form of a food pyramid. Nowadays, these guidelines take other forms.

The first food pyramid

The first food pyramid was created in the 1970s in Sweden. Following numerous street protests resulting from the high price of foodstuffs, the government decided to create a special committee given the task of evaluating if it were possible to put together nutritionally balanced meals at a reasonable cost.

In 1974, the first food pyramid was presented to the public with the following message: “A good, healthy diet at a reasonable price”.

This pyramid was made up of 3 parts:

  • The base included basic foodstuffs considered essential to the individual’s wellbeing: cereals, dairy products, pasta and potatoes.

  • The centre and top of the pyramid represented complementary food providing the vitamins and minerals not found in basic foodstuffs.

  • Fruit and vegetables were placed at the centre, with meat, fish and eggs on top.

Popularisation of the concept

The concept of a visual representation of dietary recommendations from the health authorities of various countries then spread to other countries including Japan, Denmark and Sri Lanka. The United States adopted the food pyramid in 1992. Although the food pyramid still prevails, dietary recommendations have since taken other forms, such as a plate in the United States (2010), a flag in Thailand (2010), a pagoda in China (2007), a rainbow in Canada (2007) and a spinning top in Japan (2010).