Nutrition Site Relaunched

Eating healthy can be difficult, especially during finals. To make the task easier, the Harvard School of Public Health has just revamped its user-friendly food pyramid model.

The department of nutrition at the school has relaunched its Web site,, complete with a free, downloadable version of its Healthy Eating Pyramid.

The pyramid was updated by researchers at the school to present the latest data in a clear, straightforward way.

“We want to have the latest science available to the public in a way that can help them to eat well and stay healthy,” said Lilian W. Cheung, the editorial director of the Nutrition Source site.

According to Cheung, the Web site was first launched in 2003 and catered to a varied audience ranging from health professionals to the average consumer.

After many visitors requested information that was already available on the site, Cheung said that she felt the content needed to be more accessible to the public.

“We want this to be available for educational purposes,” Cheung said. “The site really fulfills the mission at the School of Public Health to take research and translate and communicate it in a way to benefit the world at large.”

Sari R. Kalin, the Nutrition Source program coordinator who played a significant role in the redesign, said that the improved site provides the average consumer with basic recommendations and tips. The site also includes references to scientific journals for more in-depth information.

Kalin said that with approximately 2.2 million visitors a year, “we reach an awful lot of people for a non-profit education Web site.”

The updated pyramid, which is based on data from the Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study, differs from the 2005 recommendation of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

For example, Harvard recommends 1,000 IUs of Vitamin D for most people, limits dairy intake to two servings a day, and adds sugar-sweetened products such as soda to the “use sparingly” section of the pyramid.

Cheung said that the differences between the two pyramids could be explained by external factors. Unlike the USDA model, she said, the Nutrition Source’s pyramid is entirely science-based and free from commercial influence, as it does not accept any advertisements.

“USDA has their own limitations because they have all these different foods that are being lobbied by trade organizations,” Cheung said. “Nutrition is not the exclusive agenda for them.”

—Staff writer June Q. Wu can be reached at