Call for comments to help FDA with providing nutrition facts to consumers.

An average American is approximately 15 pounds heavier compared to 20 years ago. Height, however, has stayed relatively constant, meaning that our BMI’s are increasing. Unfortunately, children are not immune to this observation. An average 11 year old female has gained more than 11 pounds, and an average 11 year old male has gained more than 13.5 pounds over the past 20 years, leading to the “childhood obesity epidemic” we often hear about in the media. To combat the skyrocketing weight trend, we should write comments to help pass regulations which will increase consumer awareness of various foods’ nutritional values.

Part of the reason why we’re observing this weight trend is due to the increased availability of fast food and processed foods, and the increased number of calories packed into our foods. To try to help consumers with making better health-conscious decisions, we already have nutrition labels on most of the food we buy at the supermarket, but for many consumers, the labels can sometimes be confusing. The FDA is already taking steps to make improvements to the labels, such as increasing the font size of the calories and bolding the serving size. However, outside of the supermarket, finding nutrition facts is not as easily accessible. Although many fast food restaurants have now included calories of their foods on the menu, many other regular sit-down restaurants do not. There are also self-service foods that lack common nutrition facts, making it difficult for the average consumer to make an informed choice.

Due to this problem, the FDA is inviting interested parties to submit comments on how they may reduce the regulatory burden or increase flexibility to provide consumers with nutrition information before the agency issues a final rule for this requirement. In particular, they are interested in:

  1. Calorie disclosure signage for self-service foods, including buffets and grab-and-go foods;
  2. methods for providing calorie disclosure information other than on the menu itself, including how different kinds of retailers might use different methods; and
  3. criteria for distinguishing between menus and other information presented to the consumer.

I strongly urge anyone who is interested in this matter to leave a comment here.

 

Derek Ngai, MD

 

 

Resources

Dotinga, Randy. “The average Americans’ weight change since the 1980s is startling.” Healthday. CBS News, 3 Aug. 2016. Web. 13 June 2017.

Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. “Labeling & Nutrition – Changes to the Nutrition Facts Label.” U S Food and Drug Administration Home Page. Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, n.d. Web. 13 June 2017.

FDA. “Food Labeling; Nutrition Labeling of Standard Menu Items in Restaurants and Similar Retail Food Establishments; Extension of Compliance Date; Request for Comments.” Regulations.gov. N.p., 4 May 2017. Web. 13 June 2017.

 

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