5 reasons the new nutrition labels are good for population health

After much deliberation, the Food and Drug Administration finalized a new nutritional label for packaged foods sold in the United States May 20. Highlighted below are five reasons why the updated labels may improve population health, as outlined in a recent Robert Wood Johnson Foundation blog post.

1. Create informed consumers. Research shows people tend to underestimate the number of calories in food, so making calorie counts more visible may create more knowledgeable consumers.

2. Sway food purchasing. A 2014 report from the FDA found 77 percent of adults use the Nutrition Facts Panel to decide what to buy in grocery stores or order in fast food restaurants, sit-down restaurants and prepared food counters.

3. Encourage healthier choices. After King County, Wash., implemented a menu-labeling law, customers at chain restaurants started ordering meals with, on average, 143 fewer calories.

4. Boost buy-in among businesses. Once trans fat, sugar and calorie information is highlighted on the new labels, food companies may work to decrease the content of these unhealthy substances. For instance, chain restaurants in Kings County lowered calorie counts in their entrees after the menu labeling law was enacted.

5. Extend beyond supermarkets. Part of why the new FDA rules may have a great effect on population health is because the rules applies to more than just packaged foods in supermarkets — it applies to fast-food and sit-down restaurants, takeout and delivery establishments, convenience stores, cafeterias, movie theaters and more.

To see what the new label looks like, click here.




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