by Paxton Mittleman and Emily Sorge
Ever look at a nutrition label and have no idea what you are looking at? You’re not alone. Most people walk into a grocery store, pick up a food label and have no idea what it means. So maybe it is time that we work together to understand what’s on our labels in order to achieve our ideal weight. You may ask, can reading a food label really help me achieve my fitness goals? Some studies in fact show that people who read food labels are more likely to have a lower BMI.
What is the FDA doing to combat a lack of food label literacy? Well, changes are underway to increase the general public’s understanding of nutrition labels. This is the first change the FDA has made to food labels in over 20 years. The biggest reason for these changes is to make it easier for people to understand nutrition labels so people will have an easier time making healthier choices when shopping for food.
The first change the FDA recommends for food labels is increasing the size of the calorie font. People will also be able to tell the portion size of the food these calories are coming from by enlarging the font of the servings per container. By making the calories a larger font, people’s attention becomes focused on exactly how many calories they are consuming. This is a significant improvement to beforehand, when the number of calories was lost amidst all of the other nutrition information. However, it is important to remember that counting calories may not be the best way to lose weight and eat healthier. You should be looking at the ingredients to make sure you are eating REAL food.. The second big change proposed is adding a label for the amount of added sugar in foods rather than just a generic “sugar” section. There is a significant difference between naturally occurring sugar, such as that in fruits, and added sugar in processed foods. This goes back to the idea of not just counting calories but eating real food, since some healthy foods have naturally occurring sugar. The American Heart Association recommends that you consume no more than 100-150 calories of added sugar per day, so it is important to know how much added sugar you are consuming.
Hopefully these changes will make for a healthier America! Will they help you understand the information on a nutrition label better?