The FDA has proposed changes to the Nutrition Facts Label that would put a greater emphasis on calories, added sugars, and nutrients such as Vitamin D and Potassium, while also reporting more realistic serving sizes. Unfortunately, obesity rates in America continue to rise, as does the incidence of chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. It is no secret that nutrition plays a huge role in the prevention and treatment of these diseases, and thus it is more important than ever to start paying attention to what’s on our plate!
So, what are the proposed changes? (click here to view the old vs new label)
Greater emphasis would be placed on on calories.
o Calories would be enlarged and bold at the top of the nutrition label. When trying to maintain or lose weight, paying attention to total calories is important to ensure that you are not exceeding your goals.
‘Added Sugars’ will be included.
o Many foods, such as fruits, contain naturally occurring sugars. An added sugar refers to the sugar that was added during the production process. Foods high in added sugar include soda, sweetened yogurt, sports drinks, and candy. Over consumption of these foods has been linked to obesity.
Calories from fat would no longer be included.
o Research has shown that the type of fat is more important than the amount of fat. Total fat, saturated fat, and trans fat will continue to be listed. Limiting intake of saturated and trans fat is important for heart health.
Serving sizes would be updated.
o Serving sizes on the current label rarely reflect what people actually eat, as portion sizes have increased dramatically over the years. This may lead the consumer to underestimate how many calories he or she is actually eating during one sitting.
Amounts of potassium and Vitamin D would be required.
o Vitamin D is important for bone health, while potassium can lower blood pressure and prevent hypertension. Evidence suggests these nutrients can be very beneficial in the prevention of chronic disease
The grocery store can be an overwhelming place, and reading a nutrition label is not as simple as it seems. It is quite common to feel unsure of what to look for when reviewing a nutrition label, and some people admit to skipping the label all together. The proposed new nutrition label is designed in a way that is meant to be more consumer friendly so that shoppers can make informed decisions about what goes into their shopping cart
The evidence is undeniable that eating nutritious foods can protect against many health complications and chronic diseases. The proposed nutrition label has many positive changes that would make it easier for shoppers to choose more healthful options, and it is encouraging to see the link between nutrition and disease being recognized. Whether the new nutrition label will be passed or not remains to be seen, but it is important to remember to always read your labels and stay savvy about what you put into your body!