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New nutrition labels. Will they help?

Revamping food labels a big step forward. Consumers need to CARE/READ/ACT!

E8XE_Nutrition_Facts_dual___RGBHow many of you actually read labels when buying your food in the grocery store? I’d love to do my own research on this question.

I was NOT a label reader until I decided to change my life and get healthy just a few years ago. (In fact, before this, I didn’t know fruit was a carbohydrate!) Now, I never consume anything without reading the label and trying to understand what’s really in it. I avoid processed food as much as possible, and specifically read labels for sugar content and hidden/added sugars, which is really hard to decipher on current food labels.

Well, that’s about to change. And I applaud this effort!

Last month, the White House and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced the first major revamp in 20 years of how nutrition information is displayed on our food labels. Here’s the press release from the FDA with an overview of the proposed label changes. Why should you care?

resizedimage250300-FDA-Label-2014-RevisedWhen this goes through it will affect every aisle in the grocery store and every food product label (except certain meat, poultry and processed egg products, regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture).

The goal of the label change, according to the White House and the FDA, is to get better information to consumers — reality based information. The new labels will include bigger and more accurate calorie information, and serving sizes that are more reflective of consumers real eating behaviors. So you don’t have to guess or be a math wizard to get accurate counts on what you’re consuming.

According to First Lady Michelle Obama, the guiding principle and overarching goal of the change is that “consumers, families deserve more, better and accurate information about their food. You as a parent and consumer should be able to pick an item off the shelf and tell whether it is good for your family.”

The label change that I applaud the most is that you will now be able to see where the sugar in your food comes from. The new nutrition labels will show whether sugar content is coming from natural sugars like fruit or whether it was added during processing. Finally, recognition that as a society we are over consuming added sugars and this is directly linked to the increase in heart disease and diabetes.

Will the nutrition label changes help fight obesity?

Most stats show that 2/3 of Americans are now considered overweight or obese. So the real question is whether the new food labels will help fight the obesity epidemic in our country. I’m no expert. But it seems to me that providing better and more accurate information for consumers is a positive change and a great first step. But then, as consumers, we each need to take personal responsibility. We need to care, read, and act accordingly. I know first-hand that the real challenge is turning the new label information into action — making healthier and smarter choices for ourselves and our families.

I’m curious what you think about the proposed changes.

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