What New Nutrition Labels Could Mean for You

Health Minute

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If you routinely look at nutrition labels to see if certain foods work with your healthy diet and lifestyle, you could soon notice some changes to the labeling system. Officials have proposed ways to make nutrition labels easier to read and understand, with hopes that the simplified labels will lead more people to make better choices about food.

The Food and Drug AdministrationOff Site Icon (FDA) wants to update the nutrition labels to:

  • Add the latest scientific information to show the link between diet and chronic diseases, such as obesity and heart disease
  • Change serving sizes to more accurately reflect how much people really eat. This means that an entire 20 oz. bottle of soda – which people are more likely to drink all at once instead of eight ounces at a time – would count as a serving size
  • Create a more user-friendly design that highlight key components of the label, such as calories, serving sizes and how much sugar has been added to the product.

The goal is not to tell people what to eat but to make sure people are easily aware of the most important information when selecting food, according to the FDA. The information could be helpful for people already struggling with chronic diseases, such as diabetes or heart disease, who have to stick to a disease-specific diet.

Design changes of the labels, according to the FDA, would include:

  • Added sugars will be included for the first time. On average, 16 percent of American’s daily calories come from sugars added during food production.
  • Amounts of potassium and Vitamin D will be required.
  • Calorie count will be in larger and bolder type.
  • Calories from fat will be eliminated.
  • Daily values for various nutrients will be updated.
  • Number of servings will be more prominent, and “amount per serving” will list the actual serving size.

The FDA remained open to public comment about the proposed changes until May 2014. If accepted, the changes could be implemented as soon as 2015.

Whether using the current labels or the proposed new labels, there are certain areas you should focus on to ensure you know what is in your food. The FDA recommends you:

  • Check the cholesterol, sodium, total fat, saturated fat and trans fat and make sure you limit them whenever possible
  • Check the serving size and serving per container
  • Look at the number of calories per serving
  • Make sure you are eat foods that are high in fiber, vitamins A and C, calcium and iron, as most Americans do not get enough of these nutrients in their diets

Find more suggestions about getting the most out of food labels and what the new labels might mean to you, talk with your physician or find a physician

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