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New FDA Food Labels: It’s Time for an Update

New FDA Labels to Focus on Total Calories and SugarsThe Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has just proposed new updates to the nutrition labels on all food and drink products. The current labels only indicate the amount of sugars and calories “per serving”. For most people, this can be confusing, or people think that the “per serving” amount is the “total” amount for the food/beverage items. These new labels would be the first update since the FDA began requiring companies to use them.

New FDA Food Labels Make Total Calories/Sugars Clearer

The new FDA labels now “emphasize total calories instead of calories per serving so consumers know how many calories they are consuming if they drink an entire 20-ounce bottle of soda. New labels would also emphasize added sugars”.

The proposed changes were announced at the fourth anniversary of First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move Campaign”. The new labeling proposal “reflects concerns about obesity and the quality of the American diet that were not as prominent when the labels last had a major update in the early 1990s.”

FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg laid out the proposed changes. These include:

• Calorie counts will be in bigger, bolder print than other facts.

• Grams of added sugars, whether they come from corn syrup, honey, sucrose or any other source, will be shown in one number.

•Serving sizes will reflect portions people typically eat, as shown by studies – meaning they will be bigger than serving sizes are now on many products.

• “Calories from fat” will be gone, while total fat,saturated and trans fats remain, reflecting science showing the type offat people eat is more important than the amount.

• Labels will list vitamin D and potassium instead of vitamins A and C, reflecting shifting concerns about common deficiencies in American diets.

When Will These Changes Take Effect

While this is a great update for consumers, these changes won’t take place for years.

The Effect On People With Eating Disorders

While caloric labels have value to people who are attempting weight loss for medical reasons, they can have a detrimental effect on people with an obsession regarding food, weight and shape. Labels can help people to make informed decisions regarding choices in food intake, but can lead to extremes in thinking and behaviors around food.

It is important to think about food in terms of balance and moderation. Providing caloric information may be helpful to some people, but can create preoccupation in those with anorexia, bulimia or binge eating disorder.

What is the effect of food labels on you?

Rachel Levi, LMFT, CEDS, F- IAEDPFounder/Clinical Director
Shoreline Center for Eating Disorder Treatment

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