Monday, February 8, 2010

FDA: Serving Sizes Should Reflect Those of Real People

Source: New York Times (Summary by NIM)

The FDA is has come up with a new weapon in the battle against obesity that might make it's debut in grocery stores in the very near future.

With the advent of 100-calorie snack packs and 'healthier' ways to enjoy junk food, you might think certain products aren't all that bad if you glance at the nutrition facts the label. Yeah - the nutrition label on Tostitos Hint of Lime flavour says it's only 150 calories per serving! Except when was the last time you bought a bag of chips and ate only six (an ounce)? Or bought a muffin and ate only half. Better yet, how about buying a bottle of Gatorade and drinking about 2/5 of it? Well, according to the nutritional label - that's how much you're 'supposed' to have.

It's interesting how 'serving sizes' rarely depict those of the average consumer, and yet they 'appear' healthier, so consumers continue to buy those products even though they're actually eating 2 or 3 (or more) times the recommended serving size! According to William K. Hubbard, a former F.D.A. official who consulted with the agency last year, “If people don’t understand the serving, whatever number they get for fat or calories is misleading,” But if the FDA has it's way, American nutrition labels might start to better reflect 'real' serving sizes, which might just be the warning sign consumers need in order to pass on those extra chips (or ice cream or muffins).

Along with new front-of-package nutrition labels, consumers may be in for a "greater sense of public caution" when serving sizes reflect those of real people, not ideal situations.

To find out more and see some images of current 'suggested' serving sizes, check out the article called "One Bowl = 2 Servings. F.D.A. May Fix That." from the New York Times (Feb. 5, 2010).


Anonymous said...

Maybe if the average consumer ate the standard (NLEA) serving size more often they wouldn't be obese. Increasing the standard serving size only gives people "permission" to eat even more. How will that help?

Anonymous said...

I think the goal is just to let them know what they're really eating without having to do the math for ex. "I had 4 cups but the serving size is for 3/ many calories is that?". Also, if consumers know that the DV% are based on a 2000 calorie diet, seeing that chips have 60% of their daily calories from fat (or something along those lines) will perhaps get them to skip that second hand full.

Anonymous said...

I would rather force the people who are overeating to do the math (but of course make the serving size more noticeable/evident) than force those who eat sensible portions to do the math (divide nutrition for a huge serving size by what they actually ate). I generally only eat one serving of junk (but get lots of variety and nutrition by eating one serving of many different foods) ...and have never had a weight problem. I think paying attention to the serving size (and in general how much we eat) is more important than giving everyone who overeats an easy time with math.


Anonymous said...

you make a very good point. I'm assuming you have never had a problem with weight because you are able to read nutrition labels, do the math and 'snack' accordingly, however some people are not that fortunate as is evidenced by our obesidy epidemic. This change would be for the greater good and benefit those most at risk - it's not meant to merely inconvenience those in good health who may soon be the minority (if not already). If the obesity epidemic is better addressed, all of society benefits as we will hopefully have a healthier population and future.