New Nutrition Labels, Childhood Obesity Drops, and More in Food Policy This Week
FDA Proposes New Nutrition Label Design
The Food and Drug Administration hasn't updated its ubiquitous nutrition label since 1993, and the current design is considered by many merely the best choice among several confusing, unpopular options. Last week, the FDA proposed a new label that attempts to respond to how people actually consume food, rather than how they should be consuming food. For instance, items that are typically consumed in one sitting (e.g. a 12-ounce soda) could have a 'dual column' label that includes calorie information for the whole item as well as for one serving; and serving sizes for some products would increase. The label would also be easier to read and contain more information about nutrients than prior labels. You can find more details on the FDA website. Comments on the proposed rule will be collected for 90 days.
How Much Water Does it Take to Grow Your Salad?
With California deep in drought, consumers are beginning to worry about what the state's decreased water supply means for the country's food supply. Mother Jones has a detailed infographic demonstrating just how much water goes into the agricultural industry in California, a state that produces 99% of the country's almonds, 91% of our grapes, 90% of our tomatoes, and 74% of our lettuce. Did you know it takes nearly five gallons of water to grow one walnut? The article also contains a drought map of the state indicating that some of the growing regions are the hardest-hit areas. It remains to be seen how much this drought will impact prices at the supermarket.
Obesity Rate Among 2-5 Year Olds Drops 40% in Last Decade
New figures from the Center for Disease Control indicate that obesity among young children has dropped significantly in the last ten years. About 8% of 2-5 year olds were obese in 2012, as compared to 14% in 2004. These figures are significant because childhood obesity is a strong indicator for obesity and related health issues later in life. Experts are unsure exactly what to cite for the dropping rates. Some are attributing it to increased breastfeeding among mothers, which is shown to decrease likelihood of childhood obesity, while others are applauding child health initiatives like Michelle Obama's Let's Move! campaign and other state-level fitness and nutrition programs. The same drop has not been observed among adults or older children, and obesity levels among black and Hispanic young children were higher than the average.
New White House Initiative Limits Food Marketing in Schools
Last week, the White House issued a press release detailing several initiatives to improve school nutrition. Among these efforts is a program in which 22,000 schools will be able to serve low-income children free, healthy breakfasts and lunches by this July. Additionally, in accordance with the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, the Smart Snacks in School program limits what kinds of foods can be advertised and marketed in schools. The program is an attempt to reduce "empty calories" in the diets of children buying snacks at school. Michelle Obama's vision with this program is that children receive consistent messaging about what constitutes healthy food, whether they're in school, at home, or at the supermarket.