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FDA says nutrition label changes are on the way
In the 20 years since federal law required nutrition facts to be displayed on food labels, health experts and policymakers have wondered how effective these measures actually are on dietary choices.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is responsible for the design and content of these labels, and the agency says that changes may be on the way soon. Given that nutritional knowledge has skyrocketed in the last 20 years, experts say bringing nutrition fact standards up to date would be extremely helpful for consumers.
Updates to serving size, calories and fiber
Diane Rigassio Radler, director of the Institute for Nutrition Interventions at the Rutgers School of Health Related Professions, says that categories like fiber and transfats are now more fully understood in terms of how they relate to overall health.
"The FDA's 2010 Dietary Guidelines improved awareness by emphasizing that when we choose grains, at least half of our daily intake should be whole grain - which contains more fiber than refined grains," Radler told RutgersToday.
Categories that should be made easier to see include calories per serving and per package, Radler said.
"Often foods and beverages come in packages that look like single-serve but really contain two or three servings," she said. "If people do not realize that and use the entire package, they may be misled about how many total calories (or how much fat, sodium and cholesterol) they are consuming."
How nutrition labels can influence specific weight loss or nutrition goals, for example, should be something consumers can easily understand, Radler said.
"For example, if weight management is important, then looking at calories and fat is key. It may be more useful for people with other health needs such as blood pressure or diabetes management to use the labels to find foods with low sodium or high fiber."
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