What is Food Pyramid? (The Official Definition)

Our body needs all the essential nutrients to stay healthy.

To get these nutrients, we must eat different types of food in different amounts.

Government agencies like USDA published food pyramid to guide their citizens on how to eat a balanced diet.

But did you know what is food pyramid?

In this article, I will answer you what is food pyramid.

Let’s get started.

Table of Contents

What is Food Pyramid?

The food pyramid or nutrition pyramid is a triangle-shaped graphical representation of the number of different food groups that we must consume to stay healthy. (1)

In other words, the food pyramid is a visual representation that is used to explain how to achieve a balanced diet. (2)

Food Pyramid, What is Food Pyramid,
The USDA’s original food pyramid, from 1992 to 2005. (Image Source)

Quick History of the Food Pyramid

The first food pyramid was published in Sweden in 1974 (3). After that many countries publish their own version for their public.

For example, the most popular food pyramid was introduced by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in 1992. It was also called “Food Guide Pyramid” or “Eating Right Pyramid” (4).

USDA’s Food Guide Pyramid was updated in 2005 to “MyPyramid”, and then it was replaced by “MyPlate” in 2011. (5)

Also read: The History of Food Pyramid or nutrition guidelines or Dietary Guidelines

Some educational institutions also published their own version of the food pyramid. For example, The Harvard School of Public Health published a “Healthy Eating Pyramid” as an alternative to the “Food Guide Pyramid” (6).


The food pyramid helps us to balance our diet.

Each country has its own dietary recommendations, so the food pyramid may vary from country to country.

In some variations, you may see physical activity along with food. This indicated the importance of physical activity along with a balanced diet.

The food pyramid is only a graphic reference since the ideal amounts of consumption will depend on the age, weight, height, build, and physical activity exercised by each individual.

Also Read: What is Nutrition? [The Final Answer]


Who created the first Food Pyramid?

The first food pyramid was created in 1970 in Sweden by The Socialstyrelsen (The Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare) (3). After the price hike of foodstuffs, the Swedish government created this idea with this message “A good, healthy diet at a reasonable price”.

What was before the Food Pyramid?

There were many forms of dietary guidelines published before the food pyramid. The USDA’s first nutrition guideline was published in 1894 by Dr. Wilbur Olin Atwater as a farmers’ bulletin (7). After that many guidelines were published by USDA. However in 1943 during World War II, USDA introduced the first graphical representation of dietary guidelines, called Basic 7 (8).

Does the Food Pyramid still exist?

No. The classic food pyramid which was published in 1992, has some flaws. As the research continues, USDA updates their guideline time to time. In 2005, USDA replaced the classic food pyramid with MyPyramid (9). In 2011, MyPyramid was replaced by MyPlate (9). MyPlate is the current nutrition guide.

How many times has the Food Pyramid changed?

USDA’s food pyramid has changed 2 times. In 2005, USDA replaced the classic food pyramid with MyPyramid (8) (9). In 2011, MyPyramid was replaced by MyPlate (8) (9). MyPlate is the current nutrition guide.

How many Food Pyramids are there?

Currently, there is only one food pyramid that exists for Americans, which is MyPlate (1). MyPlate is published in 2011 by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).


This article (What is Food Pyramid? (The Official Definition)) is written by certified nutritionist and verified by scientific evidence. We relies on reputed and specialized media sites, academic research institutions, peer-reviewed studies, government agencies, and medical associations to source information. We avoid using tertiary references. Know more about how we ensure our content is accurate and current by reading our editorial policy.

  1. Food pyramid (nutrition). Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Food_pyramid_(nutrition). Published March 20, 2021. Accessed April 27, 2021.
  2. Centre for Health Protection, Department of Health – The Food Pyramid – A Guide to a Balanced Diet. Centre for Health Protection. https://www.chp.gov.hk/en/static/90017.html. Accessed April 27, 2021.
  3. Origins of the food pyramid. Alimentarium. https://www.alimentarium.org/en/knowledge/origins-food-pyramid. Published January 6, 2017. Accessed April 27, 2021.
  4. Huston, Diane (29 April 1992). “Food guide pyramid is built on a base of grains”. Daily News. Bowling Green, Kentucky. The Associated Press. https://news.google.com/newspapers?id=2r4cAAAAIBAJ&sjid=mUcEAAAAIBAJ&pg=4658%2C6907219. Published April 28, 1992. Accessed April 27, 2021.
  5. Food Guide Pyramid. ScienceDirect. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/food-science/food-guide-pyramid. Accessed April 27, 2021.
  6. Healthy Eating Pyramid. Harvard School of Public Health. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/healthy-eating-pyramid/. Published October 22, 2020. Accessed April 27, 2021.
  7. Atwater, W.O. (1894). “Farmers’ Bulletin No. 23 – Foods : Nutritive Value and Cost”. Internet Archive. Washington, D.C.: United States Department of Agriculture.
  8. History of USDA nutrition guides. Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_USDA_nutrition_guides. Published April 22, 2021. Accessed April 27, 2021.
  9. Beaver A. Is the Food Pyramid Still Relevant? The Food Pyramid: Is It Still Relevant? https://www.houstonmethodist.org/blog/articles/2019/dec/is-the-food-pyramid-still-relevant/. Published December 27, 2019. Accessed April 27, 2021.

A. R. Choudhury is a certified nutritionist, author, and blogger with a passion for evidence-based nutrition. He completed "Stanford Introduction to Food and Health" certificate course by Stanford University from Coursera Inc. He received his master's degree in biochemistry from The University of Burdwan. Abdur Rahman Choudhury aka A. R. Choudhury is also a fitness enthusiast and a coffee lover.