Finally! After years of debate, discussion, and the food manufacturers’ protests, the Nutrition Facts labels are changing.  I have been following this ongoing debate for probably the past three years. What the consumers wanted and what the food manufacturers wanted was not the same, and those people have some powerful lobbyists.

There are eight changes, all improvements, but there are two that are most beneficial for weight management and for anyone who has had bariatric surgery.

At last we will be able to see how much of the sugar is from added sugar. Currently the label tells us how many grams of total sugar are in the serving, but not where it comes from. Is it naturally occurring sugar as in the lactose found in milk and yogurt, or is it added sugar that makes some yogurt have as much sugar as ice cream? US Dietary Guidelines have been recommending that Americans limit their added sugars to no more than 10 per cent of total calories. This was great in theory but the consumer had no way to figure it out. The consumer will now be able to see that a 12 fluid ounce can of Coke has 39 grams of sugar, about 9 teaspoons, of all added sugar. If you’ve had weight loss surgery this information will be helpful to prevent episodes of dumping from the added sugars and allow you to eat healthier foods that have naturally occurring sugars but may be over our recommended guidelines of limiting sugar to 12 grams per serving.

The other change worth noting is that the serving sizes will more accurately reflect how much people are really eating. Our portion sizes have grown and most people do not eat the current serving size on the label. In addition to increasing the serving the sizes, the labels will have dual columns to indicate both per serving and per package calories (like a pint of ice cream), and in a larger bolder font making it easier to read. For packages that are between one and two servings, like some beverages, calories and other nutrients will be listed as one serving because people typically consume it as one serving.

The decisions have been made, but don’t expect to find these new labels any time soon. Most food manufacturers have until July 2018 to make the required changes. Hopefully by exposing the amount of added sugars we will see some reformulation of food products to reduce the added sugars.

To see the new nutrition label, Click here.

Eat Smarter…
Vicki Bovee, MS, RDN, LD