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About Nutrition Notes

Michelle Albee Matto Nutrition Notes Blog offers insight, news and analysis on nutrition, as well as food labeling. The blog is written by Michelle Albee Matto, who worked in IDFA's regulatory department for eight years, most recently as assistant director for nutrition and labeling.

Michelle now works exclusively for IDFA as a nutrition and labeling consultant. Contact her at

Michelle is a registered dietician and holds a Master of Public Health degree from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and a Bachelor of Science degree in nutrition from Russell Sage College in Troy, N.Y. She is an active member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the Society for Nutrition Education.

Nutrition Notes

  • Happy Birthday, MyPlate!

    June 06, 2013
    As we begin to look forward to the 2015 Dietary Guidelines, this week is the second birthday of the MyPlate symbol, which is based on the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. MyPlate replaced MyPyramid and the Food Guide Pyramid, which were the illustrated representations of earlier Dietary Guidelines. MyPlate was celebrated as a departure from the Pyramids in that it was more intuitive and easier for regular Americans to understand. Someone sitting down at dinner could look at his or her plate, mentally compare it to MyPlate and then adjust the servings, depending on whether they needed more or less of a particular type of food. Even preschoolers could understand it—I made a large MyPlate puzzle and took it to my sons’ day care center, letting the kids put together the pieces and talk about their favorite foods in each group. Fruits and vegetables comprise half of the main plate, with grains and protein on the other half. A smaller circle off to the side of the main plate indicates dairy. So what will happen to MyPlate after the 2015 Dietary Guidelines? Will it stay mostly the same, or be replaced by a new graphic? Read More
  • HHS, USDA Name 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee

    June 05, 2013
    The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack have announced the appointment of 15 nationally recognized experts to serve on the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. The committee's recommendations and rationale will serve as a basis for the eighth edition of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Steven Abrams, M.D., a past member of the Milk Processor Education Program’s Medical Advisory Board, is one of the experts named to the 2015 committee. Abrams is a professor of pediatrics and the medical director for the Neonatal Nutrition Program at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. He also is an adjunct professor at the University of Texas School of Public Health. In addition to serving as a representative for the American Academy of Pediatrics for more than 10 years, Abrams was an integral member of the MAB, reinforcing the role of milk in child nutrition and providing valuable counsel on MilkPEP’s programs and messages. He also is an expert on mineral requirements for children, including calcium, zinc, iron, magnesium and copper. He has served on the Institute of Medicine’s Panels on Calcium and Vitamin D and the Use of Dietary Reference Intakes in Nutrition Labeling, as well as the IOM Subcommittee on Upper Safe Reference Levels of Nutrients. Every five years, the Dietary Guidelines are updated and published jointly by HHS and USDA. The administrative responsibility for leading the process alternates between Departments. The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion at HHS is ... Read More
  • Dietary Guidelines Meeting Announced

    May 29, 2013
    The first meeting of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) has been set for June 13-14, 2013. At this meeting the DGAC will review its charge, identify procedures that the committee will follow through the entire process and identify topics to examine for the 2015 Dietary Guidelines. You can attend the meetings in-person (the sessions will be held at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md.) or through a webinar.  If you plan to attend in-person or via webinar, you must register at I will be attending and will provide an update to IDFA’s Nutrition Working Group.  I will also be working with that group to consider submitting oral or written comments to the DGAC. Read More
  • Dietary Guidelines: Do They Actually Guide Diets?

    May 16, 2013
    Every five years, the U.S. government sets new recommendations about what foods and beverages Americans should choose. The last version of the Dietary Guidelines, released in 2010, recommended that all Americans nine and older should eat or drink three servings of low- fat and fat-free dairy each day. It also recommended that people consume less sodium, fewer added sugars and less solid fats, including saturated fat. But when nutrition researchers examine people’s diets, there’s a big difference between the Dietary Guidelines and how Americans actually eat. The Healthy Eating Index.was developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to rate how closely people’s food choices align with the Dietary Guidelines. When compared to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines, Americans only meet the Dietary Guidelines’ recommendations for protein foods. Read more here. Nestle USA has conducted its own research and found that, on average, Americans meet the Dietary Guidelines less than two percent of the time, or about seven days a year. In response to this finding, Nestle USA has launched “Balance Your Plate” to encourage healthy eating. The “Balance Your Plate” resources are intended to help health professionals educate people about MyPlate and the Dietary Guidelines. Work on the next version of the Dietary Guidelines, due in 2015, will soon begin in earnest. The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) will begin meeting this spring or summer to review nutritional research and identify the healthiest eating plans for the American population. They will be looking for evidence to make recommendations regarding ... Read More
  • Mother May I?

    May 09, 2013
    As a mom, I make a lot of decisions about what my kids and family will eat and what activities we’ll participate in, which can have a lot of impact on the health of the whole family. This unique effect of a mom’s decisions on the health of kids and families is one of the reasons that the Milk Processor Education Program (MilkPEP) reaches out to moms to encourage milk consumption. It’s also one of the reasons that the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation and other organizations are providing resources to help moms make healthier choices for their families. IDFA is a member of the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation, which in 2010 enabled 16 food and beverage companies to come together in support of the First Lady’s fight against childhood obesity. HWCF made a commitment to reduce 1 trillion calories in the marketplace by the end of 2012 and 1.5 trillion by the end of 2015. It is appropriate to figure out what we can do to make mom’s life easier during the month when we all are celebrating our moms. After all, she is often on the front lines of family health. From menu planning and food shopping to meal preparation and family activities, mom knows what’s best for her family and how best to work all of this change into her active, healthy lifestyle. The commitment to reduce calories from the marketplace was in an effort to provide more choices to moms and dads. Armed with new options and marketplace solutions, ... Read More
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