Armed with an array of mock-ups and frank commentary, Michelle Obama recently unveiled the potential new designs for the re-labeling campaign she has so passionately promoted as part of the larger “Let’s Move” initiative designed to ensure that parents have access to the information and food they need to promote healthy lifestyles for their children.
For many, these alterations could not come at a better time. Childhood obesity rates in the United States are staggering, and much of this is being blamed on both consumer habits as well as duplicitous labeling practices championed by food manufacturers across the country. Of particular interest is the proposed alterations to calorie counts on food labels. Instead of labeling a 12-ounce soft drink has multiple services, for example, caloric intake must be labeled using the entire beverage as a single serving. While the “essence” of the information being presented has not changed, it is Michelle Obama’s hope that these slightly adjustments in presentation will further simplify the process of acquiring the necessary information in order to make responsible decisions about diet. Changes such as these related to portion size will affect an estimated 27 of the 157 product categories governed by portion rules.
Also of note will be the incorporation of an “added sugars”component which allows consumers to be more fully aware of the potentially unhealthy additions prevalent in the food products they are purchasing.
In a briefing given in advance of the more official label presentation, Michelle Obama was quoted as saying, “Our guiding principle here is very simple: that you as a parent and a consumer should be able to walk into your local grocery store, pick up an item off the shelf, and be able to tell whether it’s good for your family,”
While the changes herein outlined are, effectively, a reinterpretation of a complex data set, they do little to shed light on the potentially harmful additives found in an overwhelming number of products within the US food industry. Although labeling is, obviously, only one element of a larger picture, the potential for further education should be a necessary further point of exploration.