A nonprofit physicians organization is suing two federal agencies for ignoring a healthier alternative to the MyPyramid nutritional diagram, despite skyrocketing obesity and diabetes rates.

In a lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine says the U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services violated federal law by failing to respond to a PCRM petition offering a simple, plant-based alternative, the Power Plate, to MyPyramid.

"We are asking the government to protect the average American, not special agribusiness interests," says PCRM nutrition education director Susan Levin, M.S., R.D. "MyPyramid is confusing, and it recommends meat and dairy products despite overwhelming evidence that these foods are unnecessary and unhealthy. Research shows the Power Plate is a better choice, and it's simple enough that a child could follow it."

Since the first Food Pyramid was introduced nearly two decades ago, obesity and diabetes have become commonplace. About 27 percent of young adults are now too overweight to qualify for military service, and an estimated one in three children born in 2000 will develop diabetes.

To address the worsening epidemics of obesity and diet-related diseases, the lawsuit says that USDA and HHS should exercise their joint authority under the National Nutrition Monitoring & Related Research Act to withdraw the MyPyramid diagram and adopt the Power Plate food diagram and dietary guidelines.

The colorful, user-friendly Power Plate graphic is based on current nutrition research showing that plant-based foods are the most nutrient-dense and help prevent chronic diseases. The graphic depicts a plate divided into four new food groups: fruits, grains, legumes, and vegetables. There are no confusing portion sizes and food hierarchies to follow; the Power Plate simply asks people to eat a variety of all four food groups each day. A website, ThePowerPlate.org, offers more information on plant-based diets.

For a copy of PCRM's legal complaint or to schedule an interview with Susan Levin, M.S., R.D., contact Vaishali Honawar at 202/527-7339 or vhonawar@pcrm.org.