Food labels aim to satisfy more than hunger

It’s no secret that Americans love their food fried, baked, sautéed, and any other way they can have it. The infamous “first world problems” hashtag often consists of jokes revolving around wanting food while also wanting to be healthy and skinny. For some reason, many Americans have the mindset that this cannot happen regularly.

Enter: the proposed new FDA labels. Food labels are something that many people do read, but they are often confusing. But this Editorial Board believes that most people read them with the intention of trying to modify how and what they eat. They have many misconceptions about food and what should be in the food they consume.

The new labels would include valuable information, such as added sugars, so that consumers would understand the differences between sugars in yogurt coming from fruit or from sugars added during the process of making the yogurt, explained a New York Times article expressing an example of the impact of these new labels.

However, the new labels would also adjust the serving sizes for many foods. The example given in the New York Times article referenced the serving size of ice cream. In this example, the serving size would be increased from half a cup to a whole cup, which would be made to match along the lines of how much people actually consume of the product. While this would help to make the actual label more accurate in reflecting how many nutrients — or lack thereof — would be present in a typical serving that people eat.

The problem with increasing the serving size is that this just intensifies the culture that eats too much. Part of the obesity issue present in America is the lack of portion control and understanding.  While the intentions of increasing the serving size to have someone read that a serving has seven grams of sugar instead of four grams, for instance, will most likely have an impact on people. But they will not realize that the serving size necessarily was the reason for that increase. Many people eyeball their measurements, and this can be a dangerous practice in this sort of scenario.

This Editorial Board, however, is in full support of having the more clear labels present on foods. Many people do not have the understanding necessary to grasp what is in their foods because there are so many chemicals added or they do not realize that having sugar or sodium is not inherently bad.

Perhaps part of the solution to this entire scenario could be education. It has been proven that habits are formed during young adulthood, like many of those who attend ISU. In addition to taking advantage of the variety of workout options at the Rec, students should also look into how they are eating and what they are eating. Improving the clarity of the labels should only be the first step to create a healthier country. There should be more education for those outside of the specific health field so that anyone can understand how to eyeball measurements more appropriately and understand what goes into their food. Food is more than just a way of sustaining life, and although pleasure should not be automatically frowned upon, it is also essential for people to care about their health to live long lives.

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