New years bring new ideas, new looks, new focuses. Along with various policy changes, health care shifts and other such political agendas, the FDA has decided to add some flare to nutritional labels. This makeover was proposed after recent scientific research conclusions linked chronic diseases with diet.
Coming from a purely cosmetic and superficial stand point, the proposed changes make sense. Not only do they make sense, but they infer an interesting biopsychosocial conceptualization. Below is a side by side of the changes:
Quick observations direct the eye toward the calorie count and serving size at the top. This definite alteration in order, placement, and size is smart. Though the eye catches the actual caloric count first, it then looks to the approximate servings per container. This maneuver is an attempt to slim down on over eating, etc. In my opinion, it is easier to assimilate servings per package with a mental image of the proper amount of consumption, when presented in this way. This allows one to consider the potential monetary value of consuming one portion at a time, rather than crash through an entire family sized bag of chips at once. (Let’s be honest, it happens to the best of us.) Currently, the actual portion size is the first thing listed on the label, but who carries around measuring tools in their pockets every time they go for the pretzels? This simple adjustment invites a rather precise and direct idea for consumers.
The vast increase in font size for the caloric count may be an attempt to draw attention to the importance of the number alone. Over indulging can quickly add up and cause a slue of health risks. This risky behavior can threaten both pant size and life span. Of course, other various health behaviors can impact the results in different ways for every individual. Regardless, the message at hand is that this issue between American borders has caught the attention of just about everyone. Things need to change.
Along with the cosmetic changes comes new information. This proposal has added a new line in the ‘sugar’ section. ‘Added sugars’ will now be brought into the spotlight, to aide in the confusion between natural and artificial. This break down can help the monitoring of harsh modifications. Perhaps this will help curb the added sugars all together. Should this proposal take off, savvy shoppers may take notice and return the heavily modified product to the shelf. One small step such as this can equal a giant leap in educational gains.
In the daily value (DV %) section, there have been more than a couple changes. Vitamin A and C will no longer be legally required on labels, though vitamin D and Potassium WILL be a requirement. Potassium has been found to help fight against chronic disease and has moved up the totem pole, so to speak. Vitamin D aides with bone health and has gained prominence as well.
In addition to the swaps in vitamins and minerals, the actual DV requirements are under reconsideration. The actual amounts are being looked at and investigated, to remain relevant. Further studies will explore those changes and impacts to the final product.
Once again, the numbers gain prominence as the actual DV % is being placed in a column in front of the subject itself. This may get more attention and grant further inspection of the product in return. Furthermore, the actual weighted breakdown follows the subject.
Keep in mind that this is merely a proposal and could be completely different when all is said an done. Whatever ends up happening, it’s something new that will gather attention and potential education opportunities. Though the label will be new and improved, people need to be able to read it in order to use the information. Health literacy continues to be a rampant issue among many demographics in the United States and does have an impact on the utilization of tools such as these labels. I’m remaining hopeful that major changes such as this spark a need for educational literature and communication.
For further information and updates, follow this link to the FDA press announcement: http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm387418.htm