The following editorial appeared in the San Jose Mercury News on Friday, Feb. 28:
The Food and Drug Administration has known for years that people who read nutrition labels eat healthier than those who don't. But the FDA only last year discovered this: One of the main reasons people don't read labels on food packaging is that they're confusing - and many of those consumers are the ones fighting weight problems.
So hurrah for the FDA's first update to nutrition labeling in two decades.
The changes, announced Thursday, make serving sizes better reflect what consumers actually eat, not some ideal or arbitrary serving. They also add a line for the amount of manufactured sugars added to foods, important information for making healthier choices.
The food industry is already pushing back against the changes, saying they'll cost manufacturers $2 billion to implement. The FDA's response should be:
Nearly one in three Americans is obese, creating a health crisis that costs the nation $147 billion a year. Food companies have a right to sell fattening products - who doesn't love ice cream? - but Americans need the information to make educated choices.
Some processed foods that seem healthy at a glance have more fat and calories per serving than a Bavarian cream doughnut. Food labels have helped many consumers make better choices. Clearer labels will help even more.