Forget the Fad Diets: Use of the USDA's MyPlate Plan Is Associated with Better Dietary Intake in Adults over Age 50 (OR14-06-19)

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date



Objectives: Adults over age 50 have different nutritional and metabolic needs than younger adults. During the aging process, metabolism slows, increasing risk for weight gain. Concurrently, as age increases, risk for cardiovascular disease increases. Adults over age 50 may benefit from guidance that provides nutritional guidance that encourages sufficient nutrient intake without caloric excess. Current recommendations in the US Dietary Guidelines for Americans encourage adults to consume a diet low in energy density, and limit intake of solid fats, added sugars and sodium The USDA's MyPlate Plan is available online and provides free, individualized nutrition plans for individuals of all ages, including specific guidelines for adults over age 50. The objective of this study was to evaluate the association between use of the online MyPlate Plan and dietary intake in adults >50.

Methods: Using data from 2014–2016 NHANES, the impact of the MyPlate plan on dietary intake was evaluated in a nationally representative sample of older adults (>50y). During the NHANES, participants were asked to report whether or not they had tried the MyPlate plan. All data were analyzed using SAS 9.4 survey procedures to account for the unequal sampling probability and complex survey design of the NHANES.

Results: Adults over age 50 who reported using the MyPlate Plan online had diets lower in energy density (1.74 vs 1.95, P = 0.0009), total calories (1846 vs 2105, P < 0.002); reported fewer calories from beverages (128 vs. 234, P = 0.01), fewer added sugars (11 vs. 15 tsp, P = 0.003), and consumed more grains (7 vs 6 servings) and over double the amount of intact fruits, after adjusting for sex, race/ethnicity, BMI, food security status, education, physical activity and smoking status.

Conclusions: These findings expand on previous work from our group evaluating the impact of DGA on diet quality. Promotion of the MyPlate plan, particularly among older adults, may be an effective strategy to combat weight gain and risk for hypertension in the US.


Rebecca DiSarro is a graduate student in the Public Health program at Sacred Heart University.






Current Developments in Nutrition






Oxford University Press