New nutrition labels could help fight chronic diseases - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

New nutrition labels could help fight chronic diseases

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For the first time in 20 years, big changes may be ahead for the nutrition labels millions of Americans have come to count on.

The FDA says the current labels are out of date, and need to better reflect the needs and habits of Americans today. That's why they're proposing new labels that are easier to understand.

"It doesn't change what we should eat, it just gives us more information about what we are eating," said Lisa Brooks, nurse at Park Ridge Medical Center.

Brooks said a few tweaks on nutrition labels could make a big change in how millions of Americans choose their food.

"Instead of it saying a serving size is a half cup, and there's two servings in the package, now it will always have the total amount of calories for that entire package," she said.

Assuming most Americans don't stop at a half cup of ice cream, some current serving sizes have been deemed misleading to consumers.

"We won't think that it's half of the serving or a fourth of the serving," Brooks said.

By law, serving sizes must be based on what people actually eat, not on what people should be eating.

Shopper, Benjamin Warren, points out the most obvious changes.

"The calorie number is bigger for people to see, and the serving size is different, too," he said.

Warren said he often checks nutrition labels, and the proposed changes would have him think twice before grabbing something off the shelf.

"I'm going to pay more attention to what I eat and what I drink, and probably eat less of the junk food."

The FDA said the proposed labels could help fight the link between poor diet and diseases. For example, the new labels would highlight Vitamin D and Potassium values, for bone and heart health. The labels would also have a separate line showing added sugars that aren't from natural sources.

"You never know what's actually in the product until you look on the back of the label," said Warren.

So if you are what you eat, the FDA wants to make sure you know exactly what you're getting.

Companies would have two years to change their packaging before the new labels went into effect.

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