Americans can now track their fat, sugar, and calorie intake thanks to new FDA labeling rules
An American adult today consumes an average of 300 more calories per day than they did in 1985. Expansion in portion sizes over 40-years might be linked to rise in obesity, say experts
Manufacturers in the US will now have to mention the amount of calories, fats, sugars and carbs present in one 'serving' of their products, thanks to the new nutritional labeling rules from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Further, manufacturers will have to print two columns: one revealing nutritional information for one serving and the other for the whole package.
The agency has enforced this rule from January 1, 2020. But manufacturers earning less than $10 million annually have been given another year to add the new labels.
"With the introduction of the new Nutrition Facts label, a variation that consumers are seeing is the dual column label for some foods that can reasonably be consumed in one meal or snack," Claudine Kavanaugh, director of nutrition and food labeling in the FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, said in a statement. He adds, "We know that Americans are eating differently, and the amount of calories and nutrients on the label is required to reflect what people actually eat and drink,"
According to the American Heart Association and the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation study, adults today consume an average of 300 more calories per day than they did in 1985. They add that the portion sizes have grown dramatically over the last 40 years, which may have something to do with the rising rates of obesity in the country.
The prevalence of obesity was 39.8% and affected about 93.3 million US adults in 2015 -2016, reports the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC). The medical cost for people who have obesity was $1,429 higher than those of normal weight.
It is in this context that FDA's new rules find meaning. The label contains information on the appropriate serving size, allowing Americans to accurately estimate the amount of calories consumed.
The new labels will also separate information on naturally occurring sugar from the added sugars. "Because higher added sugar intake has been associated with a wide range of adverse health consequences, it is important to distinguish added sugars from natural sugars in a product," Dr Frank Hu, a professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, told ABC news.
"Hopefully, the information on the new label will not only help consumers make more informed decisions about their food and beverage choices, but also motivate food manufacturers to improve nutritional quality of their products," Hu said.