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Front of Food Labels Should Focus on Calories, Salt, Fats: Report
Date:10/13/2010

By Amanda Gardner
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 13 (HealthDay News) -- Four big offenders of good nutrition -- calories, saturated fat, trans fat and sodium -- should appear prominently on the front labels of foods so consumers can make healthier eating choices, a new study suggests.

Other items, such as cholesterol, fiber, added sugars and vitamins, could be relegated to the back of the package, stated the Institute of Medicine (IOM) report, which analyzed front-of-package nutrition rating systems and symbols.

"The primary intent of front-of-package information is to provide the consumer with an easy way at point-of-purchase to select foods that are consistent with a well-balanced, high-quality diet," Alice Lichtenstein, vice chair of the committee that prepared the report and professor of nutrition science at Tufts University in Boston, said during a Wednesday teleconference. "The committee concluded that it was important to provide calories and serving size very prominently . . . We felt it was important to focus on those nutrients most closely associated with chronic disease risk."

"The most useful primary purpose of front-of-package [labeling] would be to help consumers identify and select foods based on the nutrients most strongly linked to public health concerns for Americans," added Ellen Wartella, director of the Center on Media and Human Development at the School of Communication at Northwestern University.

Added sugar was not considered a candidate for the front-of-package real estate because "the committee felt that the emphasis on the front of the package should be on calories rather than added sugars per se," said Mary Story, a professor of epidemiology and community health at the University of Minnesota's School of Public Health. "We felt that having the focus on calories really would address concerns about added sugar."

Also, Story explained, nutritionists don't have any good way
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