Nutrition labels may soon be getting a serious makeover thanks to the first new proposed changes in 20 years from the Food and Drug Administration. If approved, labels would focus more on added sugars and nutrients, portion sizes, and total calories.
The text would be in larger print and include changes in serving sizes to more accurately reflect what people are consuming. For example, currently a 20-ounce bottle of soda is considered 2.5 serving sizes. The new regulations would require that it be labeled as one serving size in an attempt to make calorie counting simpler. [Tweet this news!]
"I'm thrilled to see that the FDA has proposed adding separate sugar grams," says Cynthia Sass, R.D., author of S.A.S.S. Yourself Slim: Conquer Cravings, Drop Pounds, and Lose Inches. "Naturally occurring sugar is generally bundled with important nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber, and sometimes protein, so none of the current sugar guidelines recommend restricting this type, while added sugar lacks nutrients and is linked to heart disease and diabetes, so being able to easily identify how much a food contains is critical."
Elizabeth Ward, R.D., author of My Plate for Moms, How to Feed Yourself & Your Family Better also thinks the update is good. "These proposed changes are more realistic, based on what we know about how people really eat. It's a really worthy attempt to do something; a lot of thought went into this."
However, Ward cautions that the label is an imperfect solution to a big problem, and that adding a lot of information without much context could cause confusion for consumers who don't know how much sugars or added sugars they're supposed to be eating. Changing serving sizes could also be problematic. "No one really just eats one serving of potato chips in those small 3.5-ounce bags," Ward says. "But when it comes to things like ice cream, where we've been telling people for years to only eat a half-cup for a serving, are we going to start telling them that it's okay to eat a whole cup?"
There may be some wrinkles to iron out of the new proposals, but both experts say this is a critical step to combating the growing obesity epidemic in the U.S. Consumers have become increasingly conscious of what they're feeding themselves and their families, and hopefully the FDA and food industry will continue to follow suit.
Scroll below to get a look at what the new proposed labels would look like (current version on left; proposed new version on right) and then tell us: What do you think of the proposed changes? Is this a good idea? Let us know in the comments below or Tweet us @Shape_Magazine!