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Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Better food labels make healthy eating simpler

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From Ozioma News Service

The 2010 holiday season is now over, and for many in Indianapolis that means fending off those extra celebratory pounds.

Keeping the weight off will not only make you look and feel better, but help preserve your good health. Research shows a strong relationship between obesity and certain types of cancer. With an estimated 29.8 percent of adults in Marion County who are obese, it’s important to eat healthy most days, even if we overindulge occasionally during the holiday season.

“Reading the labels helps you to make healthier choices,” said Veatrice Smith of Indianapolis, a retiree who buys food for her church’s food pantry.

“I check for calories, especially the fat content,” she added. “We have to work hard to make meals stretch and be filling and flavorful.”

But getting the right information from those labels can be tough. Nutrition labels on food can be hard to find, confusing or even misleading.

A report released in October by the Institute of Medicine suggests two ways nutrition labels can be improved:

(1) Put nutrition information on the front of packages.

(2) Focus on the four things healthy consumers should want to avoid: calories, saturated fat, trans fat, and sodium (salt).

Now, nutrition information found on packaging emphasizes the healthy nutrients that people want in their food – such as whole grains. Instead, this new report recommends that labeling focus on the four worst ingredients.

“Those were the four most closely associated with leading causes of public health problems, so those are the ones we ought to be going after,” said Matthew W. Kreuter, Ph.D., a member of the panel of nutrition and communication experts from around the country that made the recommendations.

“The idea is to make it easier for consumers to make healthy choices without having to pick up the package, turn it over and read a bunch of numbers,” said Kreuter, who heads the Health Communication Research Laboratory at Washington University in St. Louis.

The panel will reconvene in the coming months to determine how best to develop and implement a standardized front-of-package nutrition labeling system.

Linda Ellis, Indianapolis correspondent for the Ozioma News Service, contributed to this story.

For more information, visit the Ozioma website at www.oziomanews.org.

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