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The first line starts with the word Ingredients, in bold, followed by a colon. November 6th, at There is a thin rule below the fat information that spans the width of the table. It tends to be cloudy, and you can see pollen and bits of propolis and comb floating around in it. There is a thin rule under the sodium information that spans the width of the table. Infection, electrocution and injury:
Barring an update in , in which the FDA required companies to list trans fat content on nutrition labels, these rules have not changed since they were first put in place in the early s.
Last year, however, the agency released a list of major proposed changes to nutrition labels on food packages, including larger type font for calorie counts, the inclusion of a separate line for added sugars and updated portion sizes meant to reflect the way Americans actually eat. For the most part, Marion Nestle, a professor of nutrition at New York University, likes the proposed new rules, particularly the inclusion of added sugars and updated serving sizes.
Under current regulation, a g-bottle of soda 20 ounces can be labeled as 2. It is unclear when labels will actually be updated. The FDA has indicated that once the rules are finalized, it will give companies a two-year window to comply.
Although Nestle believes the proposed rules improve the current labeling system, troubling gaps remain. In her view, the most glaring is the absence of a requirement listing a daily-recommended value for sugar. While labels in the US have been rigidly regulated since the early s, the same level of uniformity was only recently introduced in Europe.
Last December, the EU passed a comprehensive provision on the required content and presentation of nutrition labels, which will become mandatory in December For slightly over a year, mandatory labeling requirements will remain far more flexible than they are in the US — in fact, in the EU, nutrition labels are still technically voluntary. A survey in Washington State found that belief in the importance of a low-fat diet and knowledge of the association between diet and cancer strongly predicted food label use, and that food label use was significantly associated with lower fat intake Neuhouser, Kristal, and Patterson, Among individuals with one or more of these conditions, those who read food labels consumed more fiber and less sugar than those who did not read labels.
One objective of the NLEA was to encourage manufacturers to produce healthier food products. Considerable increases in the number and sales of fat-modified foods were documented within the year after the NLEA went into effect Levy and Derby, However, these products are not necessarily lower in calories than similar foods with higher fat content because the fat is often replaced with sugar. Therefore, consumption of these products does not necessarily lead to lower overall energy intake.
Impacts of nutrition labeling on health outcomes is more difficult to assess directly. Only one study to date has since estimated an impact of NLEA on obesity and health-associated cost savings Variyam and Cawley, The study examined data before and after NLEA from an annual national health survey, the National Health Interview Survey, which asks about food label use and body weight.
Body mass index BMI increased over the time period and label use remained steady. However, label users gained less BMI than nonusers, although the difference was only significant among non-Hispanic white females. It is unclear why the effect was only significant among that segment of the population. Some estimates of impacts on obesity have also been made with regard to nutrition labeling of restaurant menus.
Studies assessing the impact of nutrition labeling on obesity should be viewed with some caution. First, they are too few in number to make any definitive conclusions. Moreover, they are based on many assumptions often obtained from one study and extrapolated to a larger population. The optimal scientific study design would be a randomized trial where one group is exposed to nutrition labeling and a control group is not exposed, and both groups are followed over a long-term period to determine use of labeling, dietary intake, and body weight.
Therefore, other factors affecting food intake and obesity would be evenly distributed among the two groups and differences in the outcomes could be attributed to labeling. It is likely that individuals with specific characteristics use labels to guide their daily food consumption, and these could be identified and accounted for in further extrapolations to predict impacts on a national population level. In reality, this type of study would not be feasible in a real world setting; therefore, observational studies of label users and nonusers in various populations that control for other factors related to label use and health outcomes should be considered.
Menu labeling may result in reductions in fat and calorie content of menu items through recipe modification or reduction of portion sizes served.
It is hard to imagine that a consumer would not be affected to some degree by knowledge that a selected entrée contains their entire recommended calorie intake for the day. However, the effect of menu labeling on consumers remains to be seen. One could argue that the entire U. Likewise, if obesity starts to decrease after mandatory menu labeling goes into effect, this does not infer causality. There are many other factors influencing obesity and a wide variety of efforts are being undertaken to tackle the obesity problem.
Nevertheless, nutrition labeling of foods and menu items is important because the consumer has a right to know what they are purchasing and consuming. Some motivated consumers will use information on the label or menu to guide their food choices. At the population level, nutrition labeling is just one of many efforts that will be needed to combat the obesity epidemic. Look back at other advice that, sadly, is no longer a part of the USDA's dietary guidelines.
She has previously served as The Post's bureau chief in Shanghai and San Francisco, and as a correspondent in Baghdad. The story must be told. Sign up for email updates from the "Confronting the Caliphate" series. You have signed up for the "Confronting the Caliphate" series. You'll receive e-mail when new stories are published in this series. No one will say why.
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