For Americans to lead happy, productive, lives it helps to stay healthy, active and fit. It’s really pretty simple. Choose a healthier plate, and balance it with exercise. In the end, it comes down to the choices we make.

That is why I was excited this week to be joined by First Lady Michelle Obama and Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin to introduce USDA’s new food icon – MyPlate – a simple reminder to make healthy food choices.

We all know that what we eat matters, and MyPlate offers a visual reminder to make healthy food choices when you choose your next meal. MyPlate looks just like our plate at mealtime. It can help prioritize food choices and remind us to make fruits and vegetable half of our plates each meal. On the other side of the plate – and beside it – we see the other important food groups for a healthy meal: whole grains, lean proteins, and low fat dairy.

MyPlate will replace the Food Pyramid as the government’s primary food group symbol. Built off of the most-up-to-date science in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, it is an easy-to-understand visual to help folks who want to eat healthy.

And what we eat matters. President Obama has called on us to build a growing economy that is working for all Americans by out-innovating, out-educating and out-building the rest of the world. But our workers and leaders will never out-innovate or out-build competitors if they are unhealthy, dealing with heart disease and diabetes. And our children won’t get a first rate education if they can’t focus in class because they aren’t eating right, or are teased because of their weight.

Today, overweight and obesity rates are at dangerously high levels. And the Obama Administration has worked to support Americans who want to improve their health and nutrition.

If you’d like to take a look at MyPlate and learn more about a healthy diet, you can visit to get messages, tools, and how-to materials about healthy eating. This website has information on staying healthy, with tips on balancing calories, foods to increase, and foods to reduce.

I hope you are as excited as I am about MyPlate and the other resources to help Americans make healthy choices at

And the next time you sit down for a meal – before you eat – think about what’s on your plate. Because in the months and years ahead, we hope that MyPlate becomes your plate.