The proposed changes to the Nutrition Facts label are a good step in the right direction. The proposed change of representing the actual nutritional values of the item per an typical serving and not an arbitraty “serving size” is what gets me excited — and worried. The vast majority of packaged foods use the deceptive tactic of showing the nutrition facts for a portion of the item. For example, a Gatorade bottle will show 130 calories per serving – except, there are 2.5 servings in every bottle. Most people assume the 130 calories is for the entire bottle, when in fact, it’s actually 390.
Will this help in the long run? I believe so. The ‘studies’ apparently show that people are paying more attention to food labels. Seeing 1500 calories on the side of a pint of ice cream might lead someone to reconsider their portion, or even the product altogether. The proposed change of including “added sugar” will also affect a person’s decision – the general population does not know what’s in their food. Seemingly healthy items such as “wheat bread” and ‘fruit juices’ typically have added corn syrups and sugars which are not naturally occurring.
My major concern is that these reforms won’t see the light of day. The food lobby is incredibly powerful – ask Oprah about the suit the beef industry brought against her (oh wait, she can’t because they gagged her in court). Marketing knows that people will be turned off by products that ‘quadrupled’ in calories overnight, so they stand to lose a lot of money. When the general population begins to understand how companies actually manipulate their food, they will look for alternative sources. I’m hopeful, but I’m not holding my breath.