How Nutrition Labels Are About to Get Better

We've all experienced it — we walk into the grocery store, intent on making the best health decisions during our shopping trip. Then we get completely confused by the nutrition labels on the food we want to buy.

Consumer confusion surrounding these labels is totally understandable. The labels were created 25 years ago, and have remained largely unchanged since that time. Our food system, the way we eat, and our ever-growing knowledge of nutrition and health has vastly changed in the last two and a half decades.

As a result of many years of consumer pressure, the FDA finally agreed to update the nutrition facts labels on packaged food, and they are getting quite a makeover. The work is already in progress and manufacturers will have to be in compliance of the new label standards no later than July 26, 2018. Here are the biggest changes to look out for.

The size of the font and key info in bold

The font size of different sections of the nutrition facts will help make it easier to focus on the points that matter most. The number of servings per container, serving size, and calorie count per serving will be bolded and in a larger font than the rest of the nutrition information on the label. This change will also make the label easier to scan as a whole.

An emphasis on the daily value percentage

The layout of the label will also change with a greater emphasis on the daily value percentages. These are the percentages that tell you the amount of the daily recommended value of vitamins, minerals, and components such as fat, fiber, sugar, protein, and sodium that you will get from each serving in the package.

"Added Sugars" will be included

Added sugar is exactly what it sounds like: sugar that manufacturers add to a food item that doesn't come naturally from ingredients such as fruit. It's no secret that many manufacturers add sugar to foods to make them tastier for consumers. There is scientific research to suggest that the amount of added sugar we're consuming is contributing to chronic diseases such as diabetes. Given the spike that we're seeing in chronic diseases in our society, it makes sense that the FDA is making this distinction between added sugars and other carbohydrates. (See also: Eat Less Sugar With These 10 Simple Tricks)

Serving sizes will be more realistic

It's endlessly frustrating when you see something small and unhealthy — a candy bar, for example — and the nutrition label has it listed as a three-serving snack. You know you're probably going to eat it in one sitting, as would most people. Luckily, nutrition labels will now reflect that reality.

The FDA states that "packages that are between one and two servings, such as a 20-ounce soda or a 15-ounce can of soup, the calories and other nutrients will be required to be labeled as one serving because people typically consume it in one sitting."

Though we are the ones who remain in control of our health and food consumption, the FDA is putting forward a good deal of effort to make sure that food manufacturers are helping consumers achieve and maintain good health through balanced nutrition. While these new and improved nutrition facts labels won't be the silver bullet for better health, they are a big step in the right direction.

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How Nutrition Labels Are About to Get Better

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