Some Big Changes

Proposed_Standard_NFL_2.13.14While reading nutrition labels may not be an activity you do that often, it can be an important part of eating in a healthy way. With the idea that “knowledge is power”, as a dietitian, I often find myself educating patients about the importance of the nutrition label and how to go about interpreting all those tiny lines. The nutrition label was recently in the news, as it was just approved by the FDA to undergo some changes. I’m going to walk you through the upcoming changes and why many dietitians and public health professionals are so excited about them!

My favorite changes between the current nutrition label and the new label are: the new serving size line, the calories section, and the line for added sugars. As far as the servings per container line, this number will now reflect the what most consumers tend to eat, versus what the company feels is reasonable. Given that the rest of the information on the label is calculated to reflect one serving, this is a significant change. For example, right now, a 20 fluid ounce bottle of soda is labeled as two servings per container. Given most individuals finish the entire bottle, they would need to double all of the nutrition information to have an accurate idea of the calories and carbohydrates they drank. With the new label, a 20 fluid ounce bottle of soda will be labeled as one serving, making it much easier for a consumer to take a quick glance and understand what is inside his or her bottle without doing any mental math!

Similar to the idea behind the serving size section, the new calories line will help label-readers to get a quick idea of how many calories are in the product. The big change here, literally, is that the total number of calories is in a larger font than the rest. This change simply helps buyers to understand how many calories are in a product in an easy-to-read way.

The added sugars line had me high fiving my other dietitian co-workers. This line will help you better understand what the naturally occurring sugars in a product are versus what sugars are added to a product to sweeten it. This line is a completely new section, something that has not happened since the label was last updated over 20 years ago! This line may help individuals to be more mindful of products that are a healthier choice versus a less healthy one. The new added sugars line comes with a percent daily value as well which is like two for the price of one. These changes reflect the idea that many foods have a significant amount of added sugar in them, and we now know that an excess of added sugars in the diet may have harmful health consequences.  An example of foods like this include flavored yogurts and some sweetened breakfast cereals. Checking out this new line may help you stay in the range of the amount recommended by the FDA.

This link has a picture of the contrast of the old label and current label and also much more information than the highlights discussed above.

Cheers to informed consumers and big nutrition changes!

– Dietitian Amy