Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Information for Food Decisions

   The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that calories be monitored on a daily basis.  The recommendation is based on the importance of consuming the appropriate amount of calories to prevent 'over fatness' - which appears to increase the risk for several diseases.
   To be fair, clear and honest, many of us do not know our calorie needs - the amount that balances with our energy expenditure.  This lack of knowledge needs to be addressed, but is not the focus of this post (calorie needs are assessed on an individual basis).  For now, lets pretend that everyone does know their personal needs- and agree that for most of us its between 1800 and 2500 calories a day (NOTE: if you need 1800 calories a day and consistently eat 2500 calories a day, you will have excess fat!)
   Presuming you need 1800 calories a day and you know this, and you obtain many of your meals away from home, to stay on target you need access to nutrition information at the point of purchase at those places . 
    I feel it is imperative that nutrition information be available everywhere  food decisions are made, but it is not.  The national menu labeling law (passed within the Affordable Care Act) amends an older law, the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act which excluded ready to eat foods, like those at restaurants- from nutrition labeling.  This oversight was a mistake and it took a new law to fix it.  The fact that the new law does not include all places that sell ready to eat foods, e.g., entertainment venues, is dumbfounding.  The FDA can fix this - they are responsible for the final rules.  It needs to be fixed now, not 20 years from now.  This is a real fight and certain industries and labeling advocates are battling it out - leading in some part to the delay of national labeling.
   The Center for Science in the Public Interest is lobbying for the expansion of nutrition labeling and today they shared the picture below from a New York City cinema.  NYC has a much broader labeling law, however, the federal law will override state and city laws.  That means even the NYC policy will not include movie theaters, (or theme parks, bowling alleys, etc.) if the federal law doesn't include them.  Take a look at the numbers below and see how important this information is to the person trying to stay in their limits.  BTW, we should all try to stay in our limits, at least most days.   

To take part in the campaign to expand labeling - click HERE

Just a note, the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act is the one that mandated nutrition information and nutrition facts panels on the foods you find on grocery store shelves.

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