USDA Food Patterns

The USDA Food Patterns were developed to help individuals carry out Dietary Guidelines recommendations. They identify daily amounts of foods, in nutrient-dense forms, to eat from five major food groups and their subgroups. The patterns also include an allowance for oils and a limit on the maximum number of calories available for other uses, such as added sugars, solid fats, added refined starches, or alcohol. Three USDA Food Patterns have been developed to allow for flexibility in how Dietary Guidelines recommendations can be met: the Healthy U.S.-Style Pattern, the Healthy Vegetarian Pattern, and the Healthy Mediterranean-Style Pattern.
Recommended amounts and limits in the three USDA Food Patterns at 12 calorie levels, ranging from 1,000 calories to 3,200 calories, are shown in documents below. Patterns at 1,000, 1,200, and 1,400 calorie levels meet the nutritional needs of children ages 2 to 8 years. Patterns at 1,600 calories and above meet needs for adults and children ages 9 years and older. Individuals should follow a pattern that meets their estimated calorie needs, which can be found in the "Energy Levels Used for Assignment of Individuals to USDA Food Patterns" table, in the technical tables below.

Available Resources for the 2015 USDA Food Patterns:

  • Recommended amounts in comparison to usual intake distributions:
These figures present a comparison of the recommended intake amounts in the Healthy US-Style Pattern to the range of usual intakes calculated by the National Cancer Institute. The recommended intake amounts from each food group or subgroup and oils are compared to the median (50th percentile) and either the 5th or 95th percentile of usual intake for the 2007-10 What We Eat in America/National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. For under-consumed food groups, recommended intake amounts are targeted to fall between the median and 95th percentile of usual intake, though for some specific food groups and sex/age groups, amounts may be somewhat above the 95th percentile of intake. For overconsumed food groups (such as refined grains), recommended amounts are targeted to fall between the 5th percentile of intake and the median intake.
Resources for Food Pattern Modeling Analyses for earlier versions of the Dietary Guidelines:

Archived Resources for the 2010 USDA Food Patterns: