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.