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What’s on Your Plate?

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) asks Americans to examine the food on their plates with the new MyPlate icon. In June 2011, First Lady Michelle Obama, Surgeon General Regina Benjamin, and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack introduced the new icon, which replaces USDA’s MyPyramid.

MyPlate gives a clear visual reminder of what makes up a healthy meal. The icon shows a plate with four sections in different colors representing fruits, vegetables, grains, and proteins. Next to the plate is a smaller circle representing dairy products, like a glass of milk or piece of cheese. The icon supports the healthy eating messages in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010.

These messages include the following:

  • Make at least half your plate fruits and vegetables.
  • Avoid oversized portions.
  • Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk.
  • Drink water instead of sugary drinks.

MyPlate and the 2010 Dietary Guidelines, developed by the USDA and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), urge people to eat more and a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein. These resources also suggest that people eat less of foods that are high in solid fats (like butter and shortening), added sugars, and salt (sodium). Through these resources, the USDA and HHS also stress the importance of eating enough calories to have energy for daily activities while not eating too many extra calories.

The number of calories a person should eat depends on gender, age, and his or her level of physical activity. Men, teens, young adults, women who are pregnant or breast-feeding, and people who are very active may need more calories than others to maintain their weight.

Regular physical activity contributes to weight control and provides many other health benefits. Both MyPlate and the 2010 Dietary Guidelines encourage people to follow the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. Interactive tools, available at the MyPlate website, give personalized tips for both healthy eating and physical activity.


Learn More Online

The MyPlate website provides more information about the food groups and can help you create a plan for eating healthy and getting active.

Visit to learn more and explore MyPlate tools and resources.


Researchers Consult the Public in a New Research Model

Researchers at the University of Chicago and residents of Chicago’s South Side have created a new model for working together to improve the community’s health. An article in the March/April 2011 issue of Preventive Medicine describes the model as “community-engaged research.” This model is being used in Chicago’s South Side Health and Vitality Studies, a family of studies for which the NIH is one source of funding.

The University of Chicago is located near Chicago’s South Side, where many factors may lead to poor health. The South Side is home to a diverse population of more than 860,000 residents, 71 percent African American. The area lacks basic resources like grocery stores and public transit and has high rates of crime, unemployment, and poverty.

In the past, the university often conducted research on and in the South Side area, but not with and for the community. In the new research model, researchers and residents are equal partners in research. Partners include those who provide medical and social services, clergy, local organizers, and others in the area, as well as social scientists, students, and faculty from the university.

In addition to being "community-engaged," the new model is “asset-based” because it focuses on community strengths and solutions rather than problems. All partners are working together to identify needs and priorities and then design large-scale research studies to address them. They identified reducing obesity as one of these priorities.

Article Information

Lindau ST, Makelarski JA, Chin MH, Desautels S, et al. Building community-engaged health research and discovery infrastructure on the South Side of Chicago: science in service to community priorities. Preventive Medicine. 2011 Mar/Apr; 52(3–4):200–207.


Recent Policy Changes Help USDA Expand Access to Healthy Foods

Access to healthy foods in the United States continues to expand, thanks to recent changes to federal food assistance programs that help families.

Changes have enhanced the USDA’s Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) and school meal programs, in particular. A June 2011 report shows that WIC now provides access to a wider variety of healthy foods than in years past. And the 2011–2012 school year opened with new, healthier policies for school meal programs due to the Healthy, Hunger-free Kids Act of 2010.


WIC programs, which give funds for healthy foods to low-income families, underwent revision in 2009. The revision has had two effects. First, it ensured WIC foods meet the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which are developed by the USDA and HHS. Second, it gave each state agency options for expanding the list of foods it allows WIC shoppers to buy, based on local and cultural needs.

WIC programs now offer more food options to help meet the nutrient needs and food preferences of program participants. A majority of WIC families can now choose these replacements:

  • Brown rice or whole-wheat tortillas in place of 100% whole-wheat bread
  • Frozen, canned, and dried fruits and veggies in place of fresh ones
  • Soy beverages or tofu in place of milk

The June 2011 report also shows an increase in states that allow shoppers to use WIC vouchers at farmers’ markets.

School Meal Programs

While WIC serves women and young children, school meal programs help to ensure that school children receive healthy meals (breakfast and lunch).

Starting with this school year, schools with USDA meal programs must offer milk that meets the 2010 Dietary Guidelines (fat-free or 1%). These schools must also offer free drinking water in areas where meals are served. The Healthy, Hunger-free Kids Act also requires the USDA to develop nutrition standards for all food sold and served during the school day and encourages efforts that connect schools with local farms.

Article Information

U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service. WIC Food Packages Policy Options Study. Report No. WIC–11–FOOD. Office of Research and Analysis website. ora/menu/Published/WIC/WIC.htm. Published June 2011.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service. Summary of Provisions by Program. Food and Nutrition Service website. CNR_2010.htm. Updated June 17, 2011. Accessed June 28, 2011.


CDC Helps Schools Promote Healthy Habits with the SNaX Program

Students in Los Angeles, California, are becoming models of healthy eating and physical activity through a school-based obesity prevention program. The program is funded through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The Students for Nutrition and Exercise (SNaX) program, run by a CDC Prevention Research Center, seeks to improve the health of not only students but families and communities. The program enlists the help of administrators, teachers, cafeteria staff, and others to create a setting in which healthy habits are easy to adopt and maintain. Within this healthy setting, SNaX educates youth to become peer leaders who can urge fellow students and family members to eat healthy and get moving.

SNaX peer leaders learn the benefits of healthy habits, how to balance the calories they eat with those they burn, and how to examine food messages in the media. They share their newly gained health savvy with family and friends.

Results from a pilot study of SNaX at a middle school in Los Angeles were so promising that school district officials set aside $7 million for fruits that were popular with students. Organizers hope to continue expanding the program to further involve family and community members.


Learn More Online

Visit everyone.htm for more information about SNaX.

For tips on healthy eating and physical activity for youth, check out WIN’s
Take Charge of Your Health! A Guide for Teenagers!
at publications/PDFs/TakeCharge.pdf [PDF format - 1.954 Kb].


“Like” WIN on Facebook!

WIN is excited to join Facebook as another way of staying in touch with you. Through our Facebook page, we provide tips, links to our publications, and regular updates on WIN’s activities, as well as relevant activities of other federal agencies.

“Like” WIN on Facebook by visiting Exit Disclaimer. While there, read the “WIN on the Road” page to see where we will be exhibiting in the coming months. As a fan of our page, you will get our “Thursday Thoughts,” which feature WIN materials and tips related to healthy eating and physical activity.

We encourage you to join us on Facebook to get our weekly updates and tips.


Pick Chow! Teaches Kids about Healthy Eating

An online tool called “Pick Chow!” teaches kids the basics of healthy eating, one plate at a time. At the “Pick Chow!” website, users create a meal from a range of foods, dragging and dropping selections onto a virtual plate. Meters beside the plate rate the proportions of protein, carbohydrates, fat, and other components, and the overall meal earns a ranking of one to five stars. The “Pick Chow!” site also has features for parents, including a food and nutrition blog and articles. In 2010, “Pick Chow!” won the USDA and Michelle Obama’s Apps for Healthy Kids competition.


Learn More Online

Visit Exit Disclaimer.


WIN Releases Revised Materials

WIN recently revised several of its publications. We updated the text based on the latest research results related to physical activity, healthy eating, and weight control. Four revised publications are now available. Call 1–877–946–4627 to order these publications, or visit the link below each description to read the publication online.

Bariatric Surgery for Severe Obesity

This fact sheet helps health care professionals and severely obese patients considering bariatric surgery determine whether bariatric surgery is an option. This fact sheet is available online at [PDF format - 513 Kb].

Get in the Game: Tips for Healthy Eating and Physical Activity

This one-page tip sheet provides readers with quick tips to help them get more active and eat healthier foods. The tips focus on small changes people can make to fit healthy habits into their busy lives. This tip sheet is available online at [PDF format - 338 Kb].

Get on Track to a Healthier You

This one-page tip sheet encourages men to move more and eat better. Its practical tips help men think about their health, overcome barriers to healthy habits, and stay inspired to achieve their health goals. This tip sheet is available online at [PDF format - 1,052 Kb].

Medical Care for Patients with Obesity

This fact sheet helps health care professionals and office staff create a comfortable and accepting place for patients with obesity. It offers solutions to the challenges of treating patients with obesity and provides tips to help health care providers start and maintain a positive dialogue with patients about their weight. This fact sheet is available online at [PDF format - 229 Kb].

WIN Is Having an Inventory Blowout!

Are you a health professional? WIN is holding an inventory blowout on materials for professionals like you. Talking With Patients About Weight Loss and other materials from WIN provide tips to help you . . .

  • Prepare for difficult discussions about weight.
  • Ensure clients are comfortable in your office.
  • Explain the benefits of healthy eating and physical activity in consumer-friendly language.

Call 1–877–946–4627 today to get up to 25 FREE copies of Talking With Patients About Weight Loss and to learn which other titles are part of this blowout.


Find WIN Materials in NDEP’s New Diabetes HealthSense Library

WIN is excited to be part of Diabetes HealthSense, a new online library of resources from the National Diabetes Education Program (NDEP) that aims to help people adopt and maintain healthy habits.

The library features these WIN resources:

  • Active at Any Size
  • Changing Your Habits: Steps to Better Health
  • Fit for Two: Tips for Pregnancy (from the Lifespan Series)
  • Getting on Track: Physical Activity and Healthy Eating for Men

NDEP chose to include these items after a team of experts identified them as user-friendly resources that focus on changing habits.


Learn More Online

Find WIN’s materials in Diabetes HealthSense by visiting http://www.yourdiabetes Exit Disclaimer and using the Diabetes HealthSense search box.


WIN on the Road

WIN frequently exhibits at professional and community events, and we greatly enjoy these opportunities to speak with both people who already use WIN materials and services and those who may be interested in learning about WIN. Here are some highlights from recent exhibits:

  • June 29–July 3, 2011
  • National Association of School Nurses, 43rd Annual Conference; Washington, DC

    I LOVE the guide for teenagers [ Take Charge of Your Health ]! This is a hard age to reach. It will work for my middle schoolers, too."

    —Kara, School Nurse from West Virginia

  • July 23–27, 2011
  • National Medical Association, Annual Convention and Scientific Assembly; Washington, DC

    "I work with teen pregnancy at St. Joseph’s Hospital. The Fit for Two brochure will be a good resource."

    —Jennifer, OB-GYN from New Jersey

  • August 3–5, 2011
  • American Association of Diabetes Educators, 38th Annual Meeting and Exhibition; Las Vegas, NV

    "I use your materials all the time! They are easy to read and my patients love them."

    —Eileen, Utah

    "Who hasn’t heard of WIN?! You guys are great!"

    —Ann, California

  • September 24–27, 2011
  • American Dietetic Association Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo; San Diego, CA

    "I have some older folks in my building, as I live in a 55 and older apartment complex. Young at Heart will be perfect to help me answer any of their questions."

    —Nancy, R.D. from California

Mark Your Calendars!

WIN is scheduling more exhibits for 2012. Please check the "WIN on the Road" section of our Facebook page for updates on where you can find WIN.

We look forward to seeing you there!


WIN Celebrates New and Existing Sisters Together Groups


Rhonda Bayless at the Center of Wellness for Urban Women in Indiana began a Sisters Together program in March 2011. She conducted a 12-week program with nutrition and physical activity sessions. She provides extra support to participants via email, phone, and text messaging.


Paula Williams of the Boone County Minority Health Network in Missouri kicked off a program for Women’s Health Week in May 2011. She gauged interest in the program with an "Energize Yourself and Your Family Walk." Twenty-six people came, and 10 returned for a followup commitment walk. Ms. Williams collected evaluations that will guide the structure of the program. Missouri is well known for its walking paths, so she is considering a Saturday morning walking program.


Mark Johnson of the Lexington Fayette County Health Department in Kentucky recently combined his Sisters Together and Brothers Together programs to hold a "Sisters and Brothers Together Weight Loss Challenge." Mr. Johnson is a longtime Sisters Together organizer whose programs have had over 800 participants. His efforts involve healthy eating workshops, exercise classes, and child care.

Tips to Help You Move More and Eat Better

WIN’s Sisters Together: Move More, Eat Better program encourages black women to be physically active and eat healthy foods. We encourage you to form a Sisters Together group in your community! Here are some tips to promote in your program:

  • Program Tip
    You can start small with your Sisters Together program—plan a meet-and-greet in your home, business, or place of worship. Invite interested women to share their health stories and goals.
  • Physical Activity Tip
    After dinner, take a group walk to get moving. Family and friends may help motivate you.
  • Healthy Eating Tip
    Eat breakfast every day. People who eat breakfast are less likely to overeat later in the day.

Learn More Online

For more information about Sisters Together, visit sisters/index.htm.


Tell Us What You Think!

  • What articles did you enjoy or find most useful in this edition of WIN Notes?
  • What topics would you like to see addressed in WIN Notes?
  • Where do you use or distribute WIN Notes? (health clinic, research facility, school, at home for personal information)
  • Do you have any other comments or questions?

Please send your responses, questions, or other comments to:

Weight-control Information Network
1 WIN Way
Bethesda, MD 20892–3665
Telephone: 202–828–1025
Toll-free number: 1–877–946–4627
Fax: 202–828–1028

WIN publications are not under copyright restrictions. Readers may make unlimited copies. To view WIN publications, visit our website at

NIH Publication No: 11-7410


WIN Notes has gone green.

Attention, subscribers! NIDDK has transitioned to distributing WIN Notes through email and WIN’s website. We no longer mail printed copies of WIN Notes. If you already receive WIN Notes by email, you do not need to do anything. If you previously received WIN Notes by U.S. mail only, please click the following link to sign up for email notifications about new issues:

To contact WIN, call toll free 1–877–946–4627; fax: 202–828–1028; email:;
or write Weight-control Information Network, 1 WIN Way, Bethesda, MD 20892–3665.

Last Modified: August 20, 2012

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