Big Changes Coming to Nutrition Labels

nutrition labels

With the overweight and obesity rates in the United States at such a high level a new emphasis is being placed on providing consumers with more information, in relation to the information that is contained on the nutritional labels of various food products. This being said, while there are several factors that contribute to excessive weight gain (i.e. physical activity, food choices, individual metabolism rates etc.), the quality of the food and the contents of the food are definitely a factor to consider.

A new press release from the Food and Drug Administration reveals some changes slated for nutrition labels over the coming years. The changes are designed to better guide consumers in making healthy dietary decisions in light of advancements that have been made in nutritional science since 2006, the year in which nutritional labels were last updated.

Nutritional Labels Undergoing Big Labeling Changes

One of the first things you’ll notice about the new label is the greatly increased font size for the calorie count, reflecting our understanding that the main factor dictating weight loss or weight gain is whether more calories are consumed than burned in a given time period. Interestingly, the labels will no longer display the amount of calories per serving that come from fat, since this figure matters far less than the types of fat found in the food.

Another label item getting more visibility is the serving size. Along with a bigger font, suggested serving sizes are getting more realistic (larger, in other words) in order to be more useful. Most ice cream products currently list their serving size as a half-cup, but since most consumers eat at least one cup of ice cream in a sitting, the serving size will be increased to match this. Bottles of soda in 12 and 20-ounce sizes will now be labeled as single servings, as this is how they’re almost always consumed despite having resealable caps.

In addition, many foods will have two columns to indicate nutritional facts per serving and per package. This should remind consumers of just how much fat, sugar and calories they’re eating if they decide to finish the whole package.

A New Focus on Sugar

Although the World Health Organization suggests that people limit their sugar consumption to 10% of their caloric intake per day, the average among Americans is about 16%. As a result, health organizations would like to see consumers cut down on their sugar intake, especially when it comes to sugar that is added during the food’s manufacturing process.

To better inform consumers, nutrition labels will soon display the total amount of sugar as well as grams of added sugar. You might think of this as a more useful replacement for the soon-to-be-axed “calories from fat” line. Although eating too much of any type of sugar is detrimental to your health, added sugars should be avoided in particular.

Nutritional Labels: The Bottom Line

The changes that are coming to the nutrition labels on packaged foods should assist consumers in making better and informed decisions about the types of foods that the choose to consume. This, in turn, will hopefully lead to consumers purchasing foods that are healthier, less processed, and better suited for supporting an appropriate body weight level.

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