Sunday, February 7, 2010

FDA Looks to Revise "Serving Sizes" - Make Them More Realistic

Ever wondered who actually eats the minuscule serving sizes of foods listed on nutrition labels? According to the New York Times and plenty of other folks blogging on the topic, the FDA has been asking itself that same question, and has concluded that maybe it's time to revise the "standard serving size" for a wide variety of foods.

This strikes me as a good thing. Nutrition facts labels, while entirely accurate under the current serving definitions, can be misleading for consumers who aren't fully educated on how to use this information. Changing the serving sizes will make nutrition information more accessible to more Americans, and will have the most effect on less educated consumers, who are statistically most at risk for overeating anyway. The new labels might hurt producers of some foods, but I don't feel much pity for someone whose current market share relies on consumers misunderstanding the nutritional contents of their products. (This goes both ways, for the record: companies that exagerate the positive nutritional attributes of their products are just as guilty as those who understate large quanities of fat, salt, etc.)

The Times article points out the risk in all this, that larger serving sizes might be interpreted as an "eat more" message from the FDA. This seems worth the risk.

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