Size Matters: Nutrition Labels Get a Makeover

Originally posted 02/27/2014 12:29PM

Nutrition Label
Getty

Sometimes it takes a calculator — and a science degree — to understand a food’s nutrition label.

Confusing calorie counts, unrealistic serving sizes and outdated information (does anyone still keep track of “calories from fat”?) may soon be a thing of the past.

A revamped panel is expected to be introduced today by First Lady Michelle Obama, a longtime advocate of healthy eating and promoter of the Let’s Move initiative, which aims to end childhood obesity in the United States.

Why make changes now? “The initial nutritional facts label focused on fat in the diet,” the Food and Drug Administration’s Juli Putnam told Time. “There is now a shift to focus on calories to help consumers construct healthy diets.”

Last updated in the early 1990s, the current label lists calories, fats, cholesterol, sodium, fiber, sugar, protein and vitamins and is required on all packaged foods, from boxed cereal to frozen pizza.

“I think calorie count and the serving sizes [listed on the label] are the big issue that trick people up,” Greg Silverman, a nutrition educator with the group Share Our Strength, told NPR. Case in point: One package can have multiple servings, a fact that is often overlooked by consumers.

Besides clearer calorie and serving size descriptions, what else is on some nutrition experts’ wish list? A label that would appear on the package’s front and reveal the specific type of sugar contained in the product.

Corn syrup, we’re talking to you.

—Nancy Mattia

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