First lady Michelle Obama announced a proposal to revise nutrition fact labels Thursday as part of the four-year anniversary of her Let’s Move! initiative to fight childhood obesity and promote healthier choices.
The new label will highlight calorie counts and serving size,while including “added sugars” and nutrients such as Vitamin D and potassium.
“We’re overhauling these labels to make them easier to read and understand,” Obama said. “Unless you had a thesaurus,a calculator,a microscope,or a degree in nutrition you were out of luck.”
The new labels might appear on store shelves as early as next year,though it could take several more. About 700,000 products use a nutrition facts label.
Obama said it’s not too soon to practice healthy family living.
“Parents deserve to have the information they need to make healthy choices for their kids. And this isn’t a particularly radical idea,” Obama said.
Obesity among school-aged children has more than doubled in the last 30 years and quadrupled among adolescents. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that obese school children are five times more likely than normal-weight children to become obese adults with health problems,including heart disease,diabetes,cancer and shortened life span.
A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Tuesday shows progress: the obesity rate among preschool aged children decreased by about 40 percent from 2003 to 2012.
Kathleen Sebelius,secretary of U.S. Department of Health and Human Services,said the country still has a lot of room for improvement. She said statistics show that by 2018 obesity will make up 21 percent of all health costs and by 2030 half of all U.S. adults will be obese.
“Simple changes to food labels can make a big difference,” Sebelius said. “We’re helping moms and dads by making it easier to make healthy food choices on a daily basis.”
The Food and Drug Administration is seeking public comments about the proposed design of the nutrition fact labels for 90 days.
Reach reporter Cathryn Walker at [email protected] or 202-326-9867. SHFWire stories are free to any news organization that gives the reporter a byline and credits the SHFWire.