First lady Michelle Obama is proposing a significant food-labeling revamp in the fight against the United States obesity epidemic.
Calories in bold print, added sugar amounts and realistic portion sizes are a few of the changes she is urging the Food and Drug Administration to adopt.
“This will be the new norm in providing consumers with information about the food we buy and eat,” Obama said at a White House event.
Under Obama’s proposal, more than 700,000 products are estimated to undergo changes. These modifications would be seen in the way food items are labeled. For example, serving suggestions on a single package would no longer be labeled “2 servings.” A more realistic portion size will be displayed. This change should also eliminate confusion about how many calories the item actually contains.
“A lot of the time, the servings on food labels do not actually reflect the real amount you are eating,” said Kyle Parkinson, senior kinesiology major. “A package may say you are eating a certain amount of calories, but it will not say the actual amount of servings you are eating. Labeling food will help people understand what they are actually eating.”
Another requirement manufacturers will need to follow is labeling food with the amount of saturated, total, and trans fat rather than calories from fat because the type of fat is more important than the amount.
Obama said she wants to allow parents to be able to pick a product off the grocery store shelf and know whether it is good for their families.
“Parents are responsible for what their family eats,” said Jaspriya Singh, sophomore nursing major. “Healthy eating should be done as a family.”
The new labels will also require potassium and vitamin D amounts.
Kathleen Sebelius, Health and Human Services secretary, statesdthat the obesity epidemic made it imperative to implement changes.
Advocating healthy eating and exercising has been a part of Obama’s “Let’s Move” movement, which celebrated its fourth anniversary this month.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one-third of Americans are obese. However, a recent CDC release showed a 43 percent drop in obesity among toddlers, showing a new advancement in the fight against the epidemic.
“If people know what they are eating, then they will be more conscious about what they buy at the grocery store,” Singh said.
If implemented, this change will be the first update to nutrition labels in more than two decades.