Your guide to the FDA’s new Nutrition Facts label
Thursday, June 23, 2016
It's no secret that America's pants are ripping at the seams. A study released earlier this month by the CDC found the rate of obesity in the United States is still continuing its upward trajectory.
To put the numbers into perspective, health officials expressed concern in 1997 when researchers found 19.4 percent of American adults were obese. In 2015, that figure was 30.4 percent — and still rising.
To help combat the obesity issue, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently announced the finalization of the new and improved Nutrition Facts label.
The Nutrition Facts label on packaged food provides an abundance of health information on what we're consuming on a daily basis. When the first Nutrition Facts label was introduced more than 20 years ago, it was a leap in the right direction for American consumers to make informed decisions about the food they eat and provide their families.
Compare the current Nutrition Facts label (left) with the new label (right). (Image: FDA)
The notable updates include:
An updated design with calories and servings displayed prominently
Currently, it's a word search looking for calories and serving sizes on the nutrition labels. Calories and serving size are two major components of informed and healthy food selections, and a prominent place for this duo is crucial.
Not sure how many calories you need in a day? Use this handy tool from the Mayo Clinic to find out.
Realistic serving sizes now reflect the amount of food people actually eat
And thank goodness for this one.
How often have you consumed a whole bag of Famous Amos cookies only to discover there were four servings in something that was the size of a small bag of chips. Who eats three of the 12 minicookies? That's child's play.
Grams and a percent daily value for "added sugars" disclosed
How many sugary secrets are being kept in your packaged food? The new labels will require a declaration of grams and a percent daily value (%DV) for "added sugars." According to the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, it's challenging to get all the nutrients your body needs (within your calories budget) if you eat over 10 percent of your total daily calories from added sugars.
Added sugars are processed or prepared sugars, not naturally occurring like in milk or fruit. And the percent daily value is a guide to the nutrients in one serving of food. For example, if the label says the potassium is at 15 percent daily value (%DV), then that one serving provides 15 percent of potassium needed that day.
Updates of important nutrients
There will now be a declaration of potassium and vitamin D that will include the gram amount in addition to the percent daily value. The reason for the emphasis on these two powerhouse nutrients is because Americans are not consuming enough of these, which puts them at risk for chronic disease.
All of this and more, coming to a grocery store near you. Food manufacturers will be required to have the updated labels in place on their products by July 26, 2018.
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