Navigation Links
Food Nutrition Labels Must Be Made Simpler, Experts Say
Date:10/20/2011

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Oct. 20 (HealthDay News) -- U.S. agencies should revamp the labels on the front of food and beverage packages to make it as simple as possible for consumers to figure out how nutritious a product really is, a new Institute of Medicine report concludes.

"There are a lot of different [rating] systems out there," said Ellen Wartella, chair of the IOM committee that wrote the report, and director of the Center on Media and Human Development at Northwestern University. "But no one system has all the features we think are most helpful. Our goal is to say no one has to be a nutrition scientist to discern whether a packaged food is healthy or not healthy."

"We want something that's readily identifiable, easily understood and that cues the consumer that this is a healthy product," Wartella added.

The report suggests creating a rating system that uses symbols to convey calorie counts by serving size, and a point system that tells consumers whether the levels of saturated fats, trans fats, sodium and sugar in the products are more or less healthy than recommended.

Front-package labels have grown in popularity over the last decade, but because there are so many different nutrition symbols and rating systems, many shoppers have just become confused, Wartella said.

The IOM committee recommends that front packaging labels be standardized and, at the same time, motivate food and beverage companies to reformulate products to be healthier and get food stores to prominently display products that meet healthier standards.

The committee's concept is for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to develop and test labels that are visual and easy to understand. The idea is that government food labels can serve the same purpose as the government's Energy Star program, which rates appliances by their energy efficiency.

The label should also be located in the same spot on all products, and reflect the current healthy dietary recommendations from the USDA and other groups.

A single system would let consumers quickly compare choices within a variety of food categories, the report said.

Determining whether or not a product can carry a healthy food package label would be done on a point system based on how much sugar, salt and fat it contained. These were picked because they are linked to obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure, among other illnesses.

To be eligible for a "healthy" label, the product would have to have limited amounts of sugar, salt and trans fats, the IOM committee said.

"For example, 100 percent whole-wheat bread could earn all three points; graham crackers could earn two points for fats and sodium; and an oat-and-peanut butter bar could earn one point for sodium," the committee noted.

Items with the most points would signal to consumers that these are the healthiest choices.

Samantha Heller, clinical nutrition coordinator at the Center for Cancer Care at Griffin Hospital in Derby, Conn., said that "one of the reasons nutrition labels are so confusing is that nutrition is very complicated.

"In fact, the current labeling system is so confounding to consumers that as part of a series of adult nutrition classes, I devote a one-hour class to reading and understanding the Nutrition Facts Panel," she added.

Simplifying front package labeling so consumers can make healthier choices is a great idea if the IOM can make it work, Heller said. "It is a huge undertaking and fraught with difficulties on many levels, from the food companies push-back to consumer understanding and education," she said.

It is difficult to apply the same standards to all foods, Heller said. "Some healthy foods may come up short and some less-than-healthy foods may end up getting more checks than they really deserve," she noted. "All this said, we do need an easy guidance system of some kind that will encourage consumers to make informed decisions about their food choices. The real question is, will a ratings system ultimately affect peoples buying habits or their health?" she added.

The Grocery Manufacturers Association has already come up with its own labeling system.

"In January, the Grocery Manufacturers Association and the Food Marketing Institute launched Facts Up Front, a fact-based, front-of-pack nutrition labeling system to help busy consumers -- especially parents -- make informed decisions when they shop," said association spokesman Brian Kennedy.

The IOM report is an addition to the national dialogue about such nutrition labeling, Kennedy said.

"However, it is largely an academic exercise, like many before it. The point-based system recommended by the IOM is unproven, complex and therefore likely to be confusing. It would also fail to provide consumers with the simple and clear facts they want," he added. "Meanwhile, food and beverage companies have developed a real-world program that delivers real value to consumers in real time."

More information

For more information on healthy diets, visit the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

SOURCES: Ellen A. Wartella, Ph.D., Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani Professor of Communication, director, Center on Media and Human Development, Northwestern University, Evanston, Ill.; Samantha Heller, M.S., R.D., dietitian, nutritionist, exercise physiologist and clinical nutrition coordinator, Center for Cancer Care, Griffin Hospital, Derby, Conn.; Brian Kennedy, spokesman, Grocery Manufacturers Association, Washington, D.C.; Oct. 20, 2011, report, Front-of-Package Nutrition Rating Systems and Symbols: Promoting Healthier Choices


'/>"/>
Copyright©2010 ScoutNews,LLC.
All rights reserved  

Related medicine news :

1. Calorie count plus points based on added sugars, sodium, and saturated and trans fats recommended as new front-of-package nutrition labeling system
2. Malnutrition as a secondary symptom
3. Low-Income Families Often Miss Out on Proper Nutrition
4. Ancestry plays vital role in nutrition and disease, study shows
5. U.S. Serves Up New Nutrition Guidelines on MyPlate
6. Male Heart Disease May Be Linked to Moms Lifetime Nutrition
7. TBI Therapy and Nutrition: IOM report releases April 20
8. $7.9 million grant to improve food security, nutrition in Mozambique
9. Malnutrition: A skeleton in the health care closet
10. GSA supports new US call for improved nutrition and physical activity
11. Better Nutrition Seems to Help Preemies With Lung Disease
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Food Nutrition Labels Must Be Made Simpler, Experts Say
(Date:6/25/2016)... ... ... As a lifelong Southern Californian, Dr. Omkar Marathe earned his Bachelors in ... School of Medicine at UCLA. He trained in Internal Medicine at Scripps Green Hospital ... at the UCLA-Olive View-Cedars Sinai program where he had the opportunity to train in ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... , ... A recent article published June 14 on E Online ... on to state that individuals are now more comfortable seeking to undergo not only ... calf and cheek reduction. The Los Angeles area medical group, Beverly Hills Physicians (BHP) ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... Dallas, Texas (PRWEB) , ... June 24, 2016 ... ... 12th International Conference and Scientific Sessions in Dallas that it will receive two ... Announcement of the grants came as PHA marked its 25th anniversary by recognizing ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... ... BioMedics, Inc, makers of Topricin and MyPainAway Pain Relief Products, join The ‘Business for a ... an hour by 2020 and then adjusting it yearly to increase at the same rate ... assure the wage floor does not erode again, and make future increases more predictable. , ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... (PRWEB) , ... June 24, 2016 , ... ... client, The Grove Investment Group (TGIG), has initiated cultivation and processing operations at ... Las Vegas and Pahrump, Nevada. , Puradigm is the manufacturer of a complete ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... 23, 2016 Any dentist who has made an ... current process. Many of them do not even offer this ... and high laboratory costs involved. And those who ARE able ... such a high cost that the majority of today,s patients ... Parsa Zadeh , founder of Dental Evolutions Inc. and ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... DUBLIN , June 23, 2016 ... "Global MEMS Devices Medical Market Analysis 2016 - Forecast to ... The report contains up to date financial ... reliable analysis. Assessment of major trends with potential impact on ... dive analysis of market segmentation which comprises of sub markets, ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... , , , WHEN: , , ... , , , LOCATION: , , , Online, with free registration ... PANELISTS:  , , , Frost & Sullivan,s Global Vice President of ... Analyst, Divyaa Ravishankar and Unmesh Lal, Program Manager , ... witnessing an exceptional era. Several new demand spaces, such as innovative ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: