For many Americans, weight loss nutrition begins when they are in the grocery aisles of their local market. In order for you to make the most of the calories you are putting in, food labels are a necessity. For the past 20 years, food labels have been largely the same. However, according to The Associated Press, the packaging on your grocery items may be getting an overhaul.
From gluten-free diets to the re-emergence of whole grains to an increase in sugar consumption, a lot has changed in healthy living and nutrition in the past 20 years, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is taking steps toward making food labels on American products more effective in 21st century grocery stores.
"There's a feeling that nutrition labels haven't been as effective as they should be," Michael Jacobson of the Center for Science in the Public Interest explained, according to the source. "When you look at the label, there are roughly two dozen numbers of substances that people aren't intuitively familiar with."
The evolution of food labels
For example, FDA deputy commissioner for foods Michael Taylor explained to the AP that 20 years ago, there was a huge focus in the health community around fat. However, many people today are more focused on caloric intake and trans fats rather than an undifferentiated view of fat overall. Because of this, the FDA made moves to include the level of trans fat in foods in 2006 and recently made moves to ban these substances from foods for good.
Today, the FDA is planning to make new labels that make the number of calories, level of sugar and the average percentage of whole wheat more defined, although a timeline for the changes has not been set. They are also exploring ways on how to make serving sizes more clear for average consumers. Currently, the serving size on food labels are measured in grams, which is a metric system measure that many Americans may not fully understand.
Changes may be long overdue
The AP highlighted an Agriculture Department study that was recently released earlier this month showing that an increasing number of Americans are using the nutrition facts label more often. In fact, the study revealed that the percentage of working adults who used the label most of the time in 2009 and 2010 increased by 34 percent compared to the same demographic just two years earlier.
The nutrition facts label "is now 20 years old, the food environment has changed and our dietary guidance has changed," Taylor explained. "It's important to keep this updated so what is iconic doesn't become a relic."
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