America may be one of the top countries in the world, according to many, but when it comes to health we fall short.
When compared to 11 different countries, we have the most expensive healthcare systems and are among some of the top countries for obesity. In America 2 in 3 adults, and 1/3 of children are overweight or obese (New Food Label Infographic May 2016).
These are some pretty staggering numbers, but it isn’t the time to lose hope. For the first time in years, the constantly increasing obesity rate has begun to level off. Making healthy choices is becoming more common, and even seems to be trending.
Efforts to guide these healthy habits come from many different angles, like former first lady Michelle Obama setting a healthy example and advocating for things like the USDA’s Hunger-Free Kids Act. Another is the requirement of restaurants to show nutrition information on their menus.
One of the newest changes the public will see is the new food label. As of 2016, the FDA announced that nutrition facts will look different on packaged foods. The goal for these new labels is to familiarize the public with what they are consuming and put more emphasis on how diet is related to disease.
On the new label, at the top the serving size has changed. It’s bolded, emphasizing how many servings are in the container you’re buying. Also, some packages will have dual labeling, showing the calories per container and calories per serving. The calories are much more prominent, likely being the first thing you will see.
The next important change is the sugars. There is now an added sugars section. The addition of this is great for helping people realize how much extra sugar is found in their food.
Lastly, you’ll see that the micronutrients at the bottom have changed. Instead of vitamins A and C there is vitamin D and potassium. These micronutrients were added because they play a role in heart health. Those with cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure and other arrays of health problems can be more aware of their intake.
To emphasize serving size even more, the labels are being modified to reflect a more realistic portion of what people eat. For example, a pint of ice cream used to say four servings per container, each serving being 200 calories. Now they would say three servings per container at 270 calories per serving. The same for some drink bottles, calories on the label will represent for the whole bottle being one serving.
This requirement is being instituted now and companies have around three years to completely change their labels. The hopes for these new labels are to keep the public more aware of what they are consuming. This is just a small step toward preventing disease and promoting healthy habits. Keep an eye out for the new labels and get acquainted with them.