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Nutrition Labels Get a Makeover

By February 5, 2016August 17th, 2021Well-being
A chart illustrating new serving size guidelines

Did you know that you’re probably consuming more than a recommended “serving size” when you eat? When the FDA created nutrition labels in 1993, serving sizes were based on food consumption data from the late ’70s and late ’80s. Portion sizes have super-sized over time, along with increased rates of obesity and chronic diseases, which is why the FDA has proposed new rules for nutrition label design and serving sizes.

Nutrition labels began appearing on the back of food packaging in the early 1990s to include nutrition information and ensure consistent health claims as defined by the Secretary of Health and Human Services.

What to expect under the proposed revision for nutrition labels

The updated nutrition label — proposed by the FDA in 2014 — uses more recent consumption data to better align with how Americans currently eat. The goal, according to the FDA, is to “bring serving sizes closer to what people actually eat so when they look at calories and nutrients on the labels, these numbers more closely match what they are consuming.”

The new nutrition facts label will include:

  • Bold font to emphasize calories and serving sizes
  • Updated daily values for various nutrients, and the addition of potassium, added sugars, and Vitamin D when present
  • Labeling of package sizes. Under the proposed changes, some packaged beverages and foods that people typically consume in one sitting — but actually include multiple servings according to the label — may be labeled as one serving, like a 20-ounce soda or a 15-ounce can of soup.

Take a scoop of ice cream, for example. (Wait, just one scoop? It’s usually more like, how big is the bowl?!) Unless you pay attention to the serving size you’re scooping, it’s easy to consume a lot more calories and fat than you think. The food label may say that a half-cup serving is equivalent to 200 calories. And that’s fine if you only eat half a cup. However, current consumption data shows that people usually scoop closer to a cup of ice cream. That means you’re really getting 400 calories! With the proposed changes, the label and serving size would be updated to reflect a one cup serving that’s equivalent to 400 calories. Some labels may even say “amount per cup” rather than just “amount per serving” to make it more clear. Eating one cup of ice cream isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but this new perspective on nutrition information would ensure consumers are more informed and may make them reconsider how much ice cream they scoop.

With the rise of obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and other chronic diseases, updated nutrition information can give you the necessary tools to manage and/or prevent and reduce the risk of chronic diseases, and prolong vitality and well-being.

The proposed changes are available for review in the Federal Register.

Do you think the proposed nutrition labels would help you eat healthier?

View full infographic to learn about the proposed nutrition labels facts updates. Image provided by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.


Lorrie Reynolds

With 25 years of preventive health and wellness experience, Lorrie Reynolds is Director of Wellness Client Accounts for Independence, accountable for leading and directing the Plan’s worksite wellness programs. At Independence she has been accountable for preventive health outreach, clinical guidelines, health education content, wellness solutions operations, and expansion of preventive health outreach in the community. She proudly serves as an Advisory Board Member for the Independence Blue Crew volunteer program, and is a certified National Diabetes Prevention Program Lifestyle Coach.