Federal nutrition label changes already a super-sized disaster

You would have thought the pope was in town!

Last year the White House threw a massive shindig starring America’s Nutrition Queen Michelle Obama and former FDA head Margaret Hamburg. They promised they were going to nip America’s obesity epidemic in the bud by changing the Nutrition Facts Label you see on just about every processed food item in the store.

They even claimed the labels would include the “latest scientific information” to help us make better food choices.

But with the new labels about to roll out in a few short months, it looks like we have another Obama Administration disaster on our hands.

Because researchers are now warning that our government is spending a fortune on a change that’s going to leave us fat, diabetic and more confused than ever.

Eating crowIt’s been about 20 years since the Nutrition Facts Label was changed. But this new makeover – set to debut early next year — is starting to look a lot more like a botched plastic surgery.

One of the big changes coming down the pike is to how our government defines a “serving size.” But instead of telling us how much we should eat in a sitting, the new label is going to reflect how much Americans actually eat.

Hey, I know they get a lot of mail and briefings at the White House. But maybe someone should resend the memo about two-thirds of Americans being overweight.

And changing the serving size on Ben & Jerry’s ice cream from the few scoops we’re supposed to eat to the full pint we’re actually eating isn’t going to help anyone. It would actually be funny if they weren’t spending our tax dollars on this stuff.

Unfortunately, researchers are already getting a sneak preview of what a train wreck this new Nutrition Facts Label is about to be. Scientists from the Harvard Behavioral Science and Regulation Group say that Americans will assume that the FDA has “implicitly endorsed” the new, gargantuan serving sizes as being healthy.

And in a recent study published in the journal Appetite, researchers from New York University found that when volunteers were shown the new serving sizes, they were more likely to say they’d eat larger portions of cookies, microwaved lasagna, and other unhealthy foods.

“The proposed Nutrition Facts Label is intended to help consumers make healthier consumption decisions, but the current research suggests that it may backfire, leading consumers to serve more to themselves and others,” the researchers wrote.

Of course they will! Who wouldn’t think “serving size” meant the amount we should… you know… serve to ourselves and our families?

It’s too bad that when they decided to change our food labels, Michelle Obama and the FDA didn’t think to change the dictionary, too.

Of course, the serving size problem is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to this Nutrition Facts Label fiasco. Here are just two other problems:

  • The label lumps all added sugars together. So whether you’re getting toxic high fructose corn syrup from a can of Coke – or natural honey from a bottle of iced tea – it’ll all counted toward your daily supply of added sugars.
  • Same deal with fats. The label won’t distinguish between artery-clogging trans fat and heart-healthy olive or coconut oil. It ignores science and lumps them all together as ingredients that are supposedly bad for you.

As I’ve told you before, turning to our government for healthy eating advice is a lot like reading the comics page of the newspaper to learn about the stock market.

The best thing you can do with this new Nutrition Facts Label is ignore it completely — at least until our First Lady and the FDA start consuming their recommended daily value of common sense.

And always read the ingredients instead of the Nutrition Facts Label. That way you’ll know what you’re actually eating.

Sources:

“The FDA is making a big change to nutrition labels. And it’s probably a big mistake.” Roberto A. Ferdman, August 25, 2015, The Washington Post, washingtonpost.com

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