Food companies and consumer electronics firms are being encouraged to join forces to help promote the government's healthy eating message.
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is calling on companies from the two industries to join the Partner with MyPyramid program which aims to provide science-based information about healthy food choices.
Dr. Brian Wansink, executive director of the USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP), said that "food companies and consumer electronic companies will have the chance to step up to provide opportunities for families to connect to good nutrition and activity where they work, play and where they purchase and prepare food."
"This could involve the creative distribution of nutrition information or development of new products and new ways of encouraging physical activity."
The CNPP was not available to answer questions on what exactly this would entail, although the Partner with MyPyramid program proposes a number of hi-tech initiatives to promote healthy eating, such as video games for kids, podcasts of good nutritional messages or free CD-Roms given away with food products.
MyPyramid was launched by the USDA in 2005 to replace the old Food Guide Pyramid introduced in 1992 and was deliberately designed to be simple and easy-to-use.
Visitors to the MyPyramid.gov website can find personalized recommendations of the kinds and amounts of food to eat each day, as well as information about increasing physical activity and data about each food group.
A child-friendly version of MyPyramid for teachers and children six to 11 years old has also been launched. The website promoting this version (http://www.mypyramid.gov/kids/kids_game.html ) already makes use of engaging technology, as it includes an interactive computer game called Blast Off.
"Kids can reach Planet Power by fueling their rocket with food and physical activity. 'Fuel' tanks for each food group help students keep track of how their choices fit into MyPyramid," says the site.
Twenty-five food industry associations were invited to get involved in the MyPyramid program at a roundtable meeting on February 6, a meeting described as "historic" by Wansink for the willingness showed by government and the food industry to "transform the way America eats".
"The enthusiasm of these association executives and representatives is remarkable, and their ideas are contagious. We look forward to working with them and their member companies for the benefit of all Americans," he said after the inaugural meeting.
Companies were invited to adopt a number of USDA-developed initiatives on their brands to help spread the MyPyramid message.
These include using the MyPyramid information and logo on front of package labelling, setting up websites for moms with great ideas for healthy snacking based and integrating the MyPyramid message into product advertising and promotions.
There have been some previous incidences of food and nutrition experts teaming up with technological solutions. For example, a Canadian company called MyFoodPhone Nutrition offers a camera-phone food-journaling feedback service that enables individuals to have feedback on their food choices from nutrition coaches and advisors.
Companies interested in partnering with MyPyramid can visit the corporate challenge website at www.mypyramid.gov/Challenge