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H&W Column: MyPlate on Alexa

Health & Wellness Column
Virginia Aparicio
Extension Educator - Health & Human Sciences
Purdue Extension Elkhart County
574-533-0554, vaparici@purdue.edu

MyPlate on Alexa

Did you know you can get nutrition information straight to your home via the Amazon Alexa smart speaker? MyPlate is now available as an Alexa skill! All you have to say is “Alexa, enable the MyPlate skill.” Alexa skills are like smartphone apps and provide additional information at no extra cost.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture launched its first ever Alexa skill, a digital tool that gives parents and caregivers of children between the ages of 4-24 months food and nutrition advice. The MyPlate Alexa feature provides healthy eating tips on what and how to feed babies and toddlers based on their age to ensure children get off to a good nutritional start at a young age.

The new Alexa skill helps parents and caregivers introduce simple, tasty, and nutritious foods while helping to establish healthy eating habits. Several nutrition topics are covered such as developmental readiness, responsive feeding, and tips for how to limit the intake of added sugars.

The information provided is based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025.  The Dietary Guidelines are our leading source for science-based nutrition information on what to eat and drink to meet nutrient needs, promote health, and prevent disease.

Research shows children who have obesity are more likely to become adults with obesity. According to the USDA, nearly three in four adults has a diet-related illness. The first year of a child's life is a critically important period for proper growth and development. Since they consume such small quantities of foods at this stage, it’s important to make every bite count! The benefits of healthy eating add up over time, bite by bite.

To access the MyPlate Alexa skill, you need either an Alexa device (Echo, Dot, etc.) or the free Amazon Alexa app downloaded onto your smartphone. It is accessible to all Alexa device owners and iOS and Android users who download the free Alexa app. Once you have enabled MyPlate on Alexa on your Alexa device or on the free Alexa app, Alexa will ask for your child's date of birth so that you can receive age-specific information. After that, you can access MyPlate information by saying “Alexa, ask MyPlate for a tip.”

The USDA plans to expand the MyPlate Alexa skill to include nutrition information for older children and adults. In the meantime, you can set healthy eating goals for yourself using the “Start Simple with MyPlate App!” This app helps you pick simple daily goals, see real-time progress, and earn badges along the way as you make positive lifestyle changes. You can download the “Start Simple with MyPlate!” app via App Store or Google Play.

The USDA notes that MyPlate on Alexa does not provide medical advice and is for informational and educational purposes only. They encourage you to call your doctor to receive medical advice or to dial 911 if you are experiencing a medical emergency. For more information, please visit myplate.gov

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