Michelle Obama’s product label initiative provides food for thought


Michelle Obama’s new product label initiatives may lead to healthier choices.

Lyndsie Yamrus, Senior Editor

Nutrition fact labels are useful tools that allow us to make informed choices as to what foods best compliment our dietary needs.

These labels were introduced about 20 years ago, according to the Food and Drug Administration, and our now required on all prepared food items, including (but not limited to) canned foods, frozen foods, snacks, bread, drinks, etc.

Food labels are a big deal, especially with the rising number of obesity and diet-related illnesses in our country. One would think that for the sake of our country’s health, the nutrition facts would be completely spelled out for us by now. But that isn’t the case.

Food labels are downright confusing and deceiving. A package of chips or pretzels whose Nutrition Facts read “100 calories,” are probably ending up in the cart because people might think that that number applies for the whole bag.

But companies can easily hike up the number of servings per container, which decreases the number of calories per serving.

So, if “100 calories” applies to one serving, and there are five servings per bag, that’s actually 500 calories per bag. Everyday shoppers don’t think like that.

Why should we have to do the math for every product in the store? Consumer shouldn’t have to study each product to see how nutritious it is for their bodies, especially when nutrition information varies for different products.

Companies don’t want to make their food look unhealthy because no one would buy it. So they don’t lie, per say, they just skip around the truth.

First Lady Michelle Obama, creator of the anti-obesity campaign “Lets Move,” hopes to initiate much needed changes to these food labels in the near future.

The changes would include increasing the font size of the calories (so it sticks out), doing away with the nonsense serving sizes and focusing more on sugar rather than fat.

In reality, who ever eats only half of a cup of ice cream? Probably no one, unless you have incredible amounts of self-control. We eat differently than we did in 1994 (when servings were first installed into the labels). We eat more.

The new labels would be more realistic, increasing or decreasing the serving size to better correspond with what individuals actually consume.

A small bag of crunchy Cheetos does not need to be broken up into two servings, or even worse, “21 pieces.”

No one really shares a small bag of chips, and besides that, no one is going to count out 21 pieces exactly and leave extra Cheetos in the bag.

Sugar is, arguably, the devil. In 2010, dietary guidelines for American’s health determined that the calorie intake from sugar was too high and needed to be reduced.

No manufacturer wants to list sugar on their products, and they will go out of their ways to hide it from consumers.

Sugars occur naturally in foods, but it’s the “added sugar” that really makes the difference. “Added sugars” will be specified individually rather than grouping them with naturally occurring sugars on the changed labels.

Honest nutrition information on packaging is essential for healthy Americans.

Michelle Obama’s guiding principle in this change is that anyone should be able to walk into the food store and know what food is good for them or their families.

Unfortunately, manufacturers don’t want to tell you the truth about what you’re eating, but the new labels may soon help us make better decisions about what we are buying.