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Read All About It: FDA Announces New Nutrition Labels

17 MAR 2014

This week, the AAPS blog focuses on a collaborative project between Michelle Obama and the FDA to improve food labeling. The new labels are meant to attract readers, rather than confuse them like previous versions have. With bigger and bolder calorie counts, more realistic portion sizes and fully disclosed accounts of added sugars, the FDA hopes consumers will find it easier to choose healthier options. The blog post, Read All About It: FDA Announces New Nutrition Labels, draws attention to the woes of interpreting complex data charts on the backs of cans and packages, pointing out that:

Most of us can relate to food label confusion.  We’re already overwhelmed with the sheer number of options staring out from overstuffed grocery store shelves – and the chorus of instructions in our heads to watch out for gluten, dairy, soy, this fat, that sugar, and to quickly calculate how one serving would translate into amounts a real person actually eats…it’s exhausting. For the most part, consumers just end up giving in, throwing the can in the cart and moving on.  It’s no wonder North America is plagued by epidemics of obesity, diabetes and general malnutrition – no one really knows what they’re eating! 

The new labels strive to increase consumer empowerment and knowledge, which is a critical step toward addressing growing problems with obesity, diabetes and other diet-related diseases. In particular, Obama hopes to improve rates of childhood obesity in the US by making label health information more accessible to parents – but the changes won’t take effect for a few years yet. The FDA will let the public weigh in before making its final ruling, and manufacturers will get 2 years to comply with the new design.