Nutrition Label Changes: What Would They Mean?

nutrition labelFor the first time in 20 years, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is proposing changes to the way that food nutrition is labeled. The labels were created to help Americans make better decisions about the foods they eat and to encourage healthy diets. If adopted, the new labels, with a new design, would include better explanations of nutrition science and updated serving sizes. Here's what you could get from the new labels.


Better understanding of what's healthy

The new labels involve some changes that make it easier for consumers to understand the nutrition information in relation to a healthy total daily diet. For example, the labels would require companies to list "added sugars," which can decrease the intake of nutrients and increase calorie intake. Updated daily values for nutrients like sodium, dietary fiber and vitamin D would also be included. Potassium and vitamin D amounts would be required on all labels, because they are considered newly important for public health. Finally, the "calories from fat" measurement would be removed. Research has shown that the type of fat is more important than the amount, so just the types of fat (total, saturated and trans) and their amounts will be listed.

More realistic serving sizes

As you probably know, serving sizes can seem pretty arbitrary, and many are a lot less than what people typically eat or drink. For example, you're probably not going to stop drinking a 20-ounce soda at the 8-ounce mark and call that one serving. The new labels will include serving sizes that reflect how much people typically eat rather than how much they should eat. Packaged foods and drinks that are usually consumed in one sitting will be labeled as a single serving, so the nutrition information is for the entire amount. Some that could be eaten all at once or spread out would include two columns: one for "per serving" and one for "per package." This can give people a better picture of how many calories they're taking in.

Easy-to-read design

The proposed changes would make the serving size and amount of calories on the label more prominent in big, bold text toward the top of the label. The Percent Daily Value measurement would be moved to the left of the label so consumers would read it first. The footnote about the Percent Daily Value would also be altered to more clearly explain the meaning of this measurement, making it easier for people to judge what's healthy and what's not.

The FDA is accepting comments on the proposed changes. If approved, it is not known when the changes will occur. If these proposed changes are made, they could have a significant positive impact on the health issues that many people in America face, like obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

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