Life in Balance: Changing labels

By Chad Murphy | News Editor Published:

The Associated Press reports that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration wants to revamp food labels so the calorie count and related nutrition information more accurately reflect what people actually eat. For example, one serving of ice cream would jump from a half cup to one cup, the story says.

I like the idea. It gives people a better idea of how many calories, and how much fat and sodium, they are consuming without requiring any mental calculations. 

I know I wouldn’t be satisfied with only one serving — as figured on the label — even when I was being really strict with my diet. For example, the Cajun-style rice dinners I enjoy from time to time claim to feed six, with a half-cup serving each. However, the meal plan I was following allowed me up to one cup of rice at meals. So for my meals, I was doubling the serving from the nutrition label and still sticking to my weight-loss program.

What I wish had a bit more regulation is how food is marketed. There’s some interesting reading here and here. But neither mentions my pet peeve: when a product claims to be reduced fat or sodium, but the biggest change is to reduce the serving size. I’m sure there actually is less fat and salt in the product, but dropping the serving size makes those changes seem larger. It’s not a true comparison to the original.

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