By Ann Carroll It’s 9 pm. I finally get both my kids to bed and am about to settle in for that glorious time of day: ME Time (at least for a few minutes before I realize that there’s laundry to fold, a drawer to organize, and lunches to pack).
I reach for my “go-to” snack, Pirate Booty. It has only 130 calories and five grams of fat in one serving. I can handle that. But less than ten minutes later, and I’m grasping at air. The four-ounce bag is empty. I realize that I just ingested four times the serving size. Yep. That’s 20 grams of fat. The Booty is adding to my booty.
What the Booty bag really needs is an alarm, but the FDA is doing the next best thing. The FDA has proposed changes to nutrition labeling that will better visually represent what we’re consuming.
The new labels will place a bigger emphasis on total calories and added sugars. Added sugars recently topped the “bad guy” list when it comes to nutrition. Some experts see a link between added sugars (versus those that naturally occur in a food) and obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.
The new labels will also reflect more realistic serving sizes. Who eats only one-ounce of Pirate Booty, or drinks 12-ounces of a 20-ounce coke? There goes my ability to pretend that I’m only drinking 90 calories when I cave for a bottle of fat-free Nestle chocolate milk.
In addition to showing what people actually consume, the FDA will require the amounts of potassium and Vitamin D to appear on nutrition labels. Why? Vitamin D is important for healthy bones, especially in women and the elderly – and most of us are seriously deficient.
As a mom who is still trying to work off the “baby weight,” I want my nutrition labels to tell me the truth about what I’m eating for how much I eat. And as someone who’s watched one too many food documentaries (complements of my Netflix addiction), I’d like the FDA to start asking more questions about genetically modified foods and the use of dyes and high fructose corn syrup. This, at least, is a step in the right direction.
According to the FDA’s Health and Diet Surveys, 54 percent of Americans say they read nutrition labels. That’s a 2008 statistic, so chances are even more Americans have started reading labels since then.
The FDA has opened a 90 day period for public comment and will then issue a final ruling on the new nutrition labels. If you want to offer feedback, this link will guide you through the process and also provide more information.