National Nutrition Month 2014 begins tomorrow, right in the middle of breaking news about the FDA’s desire to update food labels. The goals of both National Nutrition Month and the Food and Drug Administration appear to be the same. Both the FDA and NNM wish to give people the ability and resources to learn how to combine both nutrition and taste in order to promote a healthy lifestyle. The new food labels may make it easier for people to choose healthy products by the time National Nutrition Month 2016 comes around.
The labels, which are currently under the consideration of the FDA, will not be going onto products on the local grocery store any time soon. The next three months will be a period in which comments from both from experts in the nutrition field and also from consumers will be accepted. Once the 90 day comment period is over, the FDA will make a final ruling and begin to set the new standards in place. Even then, it could take up to two years for the new labels to show up on some food.
Most labels, however, should be in place by the time March 2016 rolls around. This will make the job of National Nutrition Month that much easier. In addition to highlighting total calories and the amount of sugar in each product, the new labels will more accurately reflect portion sizes that people actually eat. For instance, the portion size for ice cream will increase from one half cup to a full cup per serving. The new food labels will showcase total calories, serving size, and sugar, to help people make the best health choices possible all the time and not just during National Nutrition Month.
Serving size will not be the only adjustment made to current standards. The total daily allowance for sodium intake will be reduced, though not as much as some experts would like. Other adjustments will be made to the recommended levels of Vitamin D and dietary fiber. One of the biggest changes will be the removal of the information line calculating the total calories from fat. The FDA will be highlighting overall calories instead.
Another big change currently under discussion will be the information on the amount of sugar each item contains. While sugar is currently listed on nutrition labels, the FDA is proposing a breakdown between totals from natural sugars and those from chemically added sugars. This may be based on the suggestion of groups such as the American Heart Association, which recommend people eat only half of their optional calories as sugars. That means a total of only about six teaspoons of added sugar for women, nine for men.
National Nutrition Month’s main goal is to help the public establish healthy eating habits in conjunction with a healthy lifestyle. Research shows that people will choose taste over nutritional values. These choices may lead to less healthy food consumption. NNM provides resources to help people balance their nutrition intake with products that are pleasurable to eat. The new food labels may be a boon for National Nutrition Month as they assist consumers in their quest to buy healthy food by providing information that is easier to understand.
By Dee Mueller