When you look at that eye-catching red box of Cap’n Crunch, you see the charming sailor and larger-than-life pieces of sweetened cereal. It draws you in, and if all goes well, you may never turn the box over to see the boring chart with nutritional values.
The FDA knows this and wants to help combat the obesity epidemic by forcing the food industry to display nutrition labels on the front of the package instead of the back. The FDA is still developing a proposal to develop this potential shift.
Packaging with Nutritional Value Charts
An article from Health News explains that it’s not just about people looking at the label. There may be a need for better explanations of the key as well:
Nutrition labels are an important factor in shopping and preparing for a healthy diet. While you might think that consumers don’t bother reading the grams and percentages of fat, cholesterol, fiber, protein, sugar, and vitamins, you would be wrong. An FDA Health and Diet Survey found that approximately 50 percent of shoppers take the time to check out food labels and the ingredient lists before buying a product. Understanding all the verbiage may be another matter, however.
The revised dietary guidelines for Americans were released today with explanations behind all the recommended daily values. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, along with the Department of Agriculture, updates these guidelines every 5 years.
Many companies have started putting tidbits of information on the front of the package in addition to the full nutrition label on the back. These “nutritional keys” may contain how many calories are in a serving, how much protein you can get from one serving, or what amount of vitamins and minerals are found in each serving. This can help in many cases.
Interestingly enough, however, many companies only highlight the information that will entice someone to buy their product. One serving may contain 4 grams of protein and 30% of the recommended daily value of Vitamin A, which is proudly displayed in a nutritional key on the front. You have to turn the package over and inspect the full nutritional guide to discover that it also contains:
- 53 grams of sugar
- 85% of your daily sodium intake, and
- 400 calories in each serving.
Economics of Obesity
The Business Pundit blog posits that it may not just be nutritional labels and altered dietary recommendations. It says that if the government would subsidize local farms or farmer’s markets instead of things like corn ethanol, it would mend a large part of the problem. Many people eat unhealthily because it’s a lot cheaper and less time-consuming than buying your food fresh and cooking at home. Perhaps this, combined with nutritional labels holding a prominent place on the front of packaged food, could help people take a closer look at what they eat and choose to be healthy.
Do you think labels on the front would help people be more aware of what they’re eating?
What do you think? Is it all just a blame game?