National Nutrition Month: Proposed Changes To Food Labels

Last week, First Lady Michelle Obama unveiled the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) proposed changes to food labels, which have remained the same for the past 20 years. In my opinion, this announcement is long overdue. My nutrition colleagues and I have been advocating for these modifications for many years, as we believe they will help the everyday consumer understand exactly what they are putting into their bodies.

If the proposed changes are approved, the new labels will place a larger emphasis on total calories, added sugars and vitamin D and potassium. While I think all of these categories are important, I am hopeful that listing added sugars will help families better determine exactly what they are consuming on a daily basis.

For example, yogurt is a long-time family favorite at the breakfast table. Many popular yogurt brands that add fruit to enhance flavor will benefit from this proposed change. While the fruit may add flavor, the syrup it sits in also adds a good amount sugar. I always recommend buying plain yogurt for your family and adding fresh berries and other fruit to control how much sugar you are actually eating. Almost every item that you see in the grocery store has the potential to contain added sugars. Labels on other common foods that will likely be edited if the proposed changes go into effect include: ketchup, cereals, peanut butter and bread.

You’re not alone if you’ve read about these changes in the news over the past week and aren’t sure what they mean or how to read a label. The current nutrition labels are not very user-friendly. If and when these proposed changes go into effect, I expect them to be much less overwhelming.

This is a positive step in helping consumers take control of their health and I look forward to seeing what the future holds for our nutrition labels.

March is also National Nutrition Month!  It’s a great time to celebrate healthy eating, so over the next few weeks you will see some great user-friendly information on the blog for you and your family. For more information about Texas Children’s Hospital Food and Nutrition Services Department, visit here.

About Kristi King, Clinical Dietician

I am a clinical dietitian at Texas Children’s Hospital and a Clinical Instructor of Pediatrics for Baylor College of Medicine, Section of Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition.

My interests are in general pediatric nutrition, pediatric nutrition support, and Intestinal Rehabilitation for those children who malabsorb vitamins & nutrients.

I was honored to be the Houston Area Dietetic Association’s Recognized Young Dietitian of the Year in 2008 and was a graduate of the Inaugural Class of the Texas Children’s Rising Leader Program in 2010.

I am a registered dietitian and Spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Posted in Nutrition

One Response to National Nutrition Month: Proposed Changes To Food Labels

  1. Don Fowles says:

    Whilst I certainly think that changing the way food labels are laid out is important for making it easier to read the nutritional information, I think educating people on serving sizes and what each of the points on these labels means is of equal importance. I certainly understand that these changes are only going to occur in the US for now, but I think it is something that we in Australia should also consider doing for ourselves.

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