Packaged convenience foods can be a lifesaver on busy days. But when you look closely at their nutrition labels, many ingredients have long chemical names that seem almost designed to prevent us from understanding what we're eating.
Is basing serving sizes on what people actually eat the right decision in light of current rates of obesity and chronic disease? Or will it only further confuse consumers on what is an appropriate serving size, adding to the education burden that already exists?
The FDA is proposing to change the standard serving sizes to reflect what people actually eat. The FDA defines the current serving sizes as amounts of foods commonly consumed based on dietary intake surveys conducted in the 1970s and 1980s.
These changes are undoubtedly a victory for health advocates. As First Lady Michelle Obama put it: "This is a big deal, and it's going to make a big difference for families all across this country." They could also create a crisis for the food industry.
It can be confusing and daunting at first, but familiarizing yourself with the nutrition content of the food you're putting into your body will help you really learn about different nutrients and encourage you to make better choices.
Nutrition labels should be clear, honest, and informative -- and reading one shouldn't require the skills of an NSA code-breaker. But too often, companies try to trick people into buying foods that aren't as healthy as the labels pretend.
As the FDA and other government organizations continue to debate front of label systems, a new study suggests design and color deserve as much attention as the nutrition information itself if we are to really help consumers reach informed food choices.
Thanks to the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act of 1990, we as consumers have easy access to the nutritional information for most of the foods we can purchase in a grocery store. As they say, information is power -- but that power is weakened by several flaws in our labeling system.
Michelle Obama is reluctant to declare Twinkies toxic and I don't disagree. I played detective and tracked down the origins and manufacturing of each of the 39 (yes, 39!) ingredients on the Twinkies ingredient label.