NEW LABELS REVEAL ADDED SUGAR INFORMATION
Changes to FDA nutritional information labels were recently announced by that agency along with First Lady Michelle Obama. Some changes are in format (calorie per serving with be in larger font and bolded). Others reflect updated health science understanding of what’s important in the diet. The percent of calories from fat will be eliminated because the type of fat ingested, like saturated and ‘trans’ fats, is deemed more important than the amount. Yet other changes are intended to bring reality to the label. Portions will be sizes that Americans typically eat rather than what they should eat; some will go up, like for ice cream and soda, others may go down. I am not sure that we Americans ever eat less of anything; maybe some vegetable serving sizes will decrease.
The most significant change, in my opinion, is the new value for “added sugars” that will be clearly apparent for all to see. Currently the value for total sugar is provided, which includes that naturally present in a food plus that which is added by the manufacturer. The reason I think it’s so important is that firstly, we will begin to notice that sugar is an unexpected and almost hidden addition, buried in the fine type of ingredients, to many products. I anticipate being shocked.
Second, the information is likely to (or should) change consumer behavior. Many may opt to select items without added sugar or with lesser amounts, especially those not intended to be “sweet”. Last year I bought standard, sliced, factory-made whole wheat bread. It had a faintly sweeter taste (not with a good result) than I remembered our bread usually had. A check of the label showed added high fructose corn syrup! I went back to the store and realized that many brands, as well as hamburger and hot dog buns, had it or another sugar. Without a number identifying the amount, it was difficult to pick a brand based on sugar content.
Thirdly, efforts by manufacturers to reduce sugar in their food products will likely be stepped up, and that WILL BE GOOD FOR ALL OF US! My concern is that manufacturers will start adding artificial sweeteners to get around the labeling mandate, thinking we still want everything to taste relatively sweet.
Don’t expect to see new labels soon. An article by Hadley Malcolm in USA Today stated that food manufacturers “have two years — until July 26, 2018 — to change packaging to meet the new rules, which don't apply to certain meat, poultry and processed egg products.” Those “with less than $10 million in annual food sales get an extra year to comply.”
These updated labels will help runners making healthier food product choices when shopping. The bottom line is that it’s still best to start with fresh foods that are not manufactured when possible.
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EARNED RUNS is edited and authored by me, runner and founder. I began participating in road races before 5Ks were common. I've been a dietitian, practiced and taught clinical pathology, and been involved with research that utilized pathology. I am fascinated with understanding the origins of disease as well as health.
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