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Children get their own food pyramid



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ALEXANDRIA, Va. -- The government Wednesday launched its first food pyramid designed especially for elementary-school children, called MyPyramid for Kids, along with a computer game, MyPyramid Blast Off. Both are available on www.myPyramid.gov.

Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns told students at Samuel Tucker Elementary School that the pyramid and game were created as something "that would be fun" for kids while helping them learn about eating right and being physically active. The kids' symbol has the same shape and basic nutrition messages as MyPyramid, the nutrition and exercise guidelines released in April by the Department of Agriculture.

But MyPyramid For Kids, aimed at ages 6 to 11, has cartoon-like images of foods and colorful cartoon characters playing soccer, bicycling and skateboarding.

The computer game features a rocket ship that needs fuel to reach Planet Power. Kids fill the fuel tank with a variety of foods, and they add activities to the rocket's activity battery for a total of 60 minutes a day.

The pyramid and game are getting mixed reviews from children and experts. "It's fun," third-grader Gelila Teshome, 8, said. Saurav Khulal, 8, said he liked the game but it could become "a little boring."

Elizabeth Ward, a registered dietitian in Reading, Mass., who has three young daughters, says the kids pyramid "is engaging and not preachy and allows children choices in making their own decisions."

But Michael Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a Washington-based consumer advocacy group, says: "This is just warmed-over, namby-pamby 1950s nutrition education. It's telling kids what they know."

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© Copyright 2004 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc.

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