The new Canadianhas made waves up north by deemphasizing serving sizes. As one bariatric medicine specialist in Canada’s National Post, “Nobody weighed and measured their foods. Nobody really followed it, nobody knew what a serving size was. They were ridiculous and idiotic.”
Instead, the new guide focuses onwith an emphasis on eating more plant-based foods. If only we could do something similar with the ineffective U.S. food label, which is long overdue for a major rethink.
We often fail to admit when something is not working or when we or our organizations are wrong. When others admit fault, we sometimes fail to appreciate their actions. A quick scan of the news offers plenty of examples.
So it’s nice to see that Health Canada’s guidegeared more toward healthy eating and lifestyles, rather than focusing too much on specific foods or largely useless serving sizes. The Canadian guide is similar to the U.S. government’s “ ” program, which replaced the old food pyramid diagrams.
Some of the new Canadian recommendations seem surprisingly easy to use. For example, they suggest that peopleto save money and take more control over what they eat.
They alsoeating with others more often to “enjoy quality time together,” “share food traditions” and “explore new healthy foods that you might not normally try.”
Not everyone is thrilled with the guidelines, even beyond the meat and dairy industries whose products are partially marginalized.
Chris Selley of the National Post, who praised the guide as an example of evidence-based policy, still made light of the patronizing tone: “If you struggle to drink as much water as the guide thinks you should, have you considered that you can ‘drink it hot or cold?’” He alsothat “an exercise like this is .”
Patronizing beats confusing. And when it comes to the U.S. nutrition facts food label, which, unlike the MyPlate guide, accompanies the food Americans buy, confusing is what we get. Regulators continue to fiddle with font sizes, stick with convoluted serving sizes and update percent daily values (%DVs) that most consumers find incomprehensible and thus useless.
Want to track what you eat? Well, we have a new footnote to explain %DVs: “The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much of a nutrient in a serving of food contributes to a daily diet. 2000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.”
Unless you plan to stop and do some math every time you grab a new item on your grocery trip, what exactly are you expected to do with that information?
In an understatement, nutrition researcher Eric Matheson, One by the American Heart Association found that “95 percent of shoppers at least sometimes look for healthy options, but only a little over a quarter say it’s ‘easy’ to actually find healthy foods.”
In fact, one of the original goals for nutrition labeling was to reduce consumption of saturated fat. But the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee Report of 2015that saturated fat is still “overconsumed by the U.S. population,” and USDA researchers that the labels had “no effect on dietary intakes of total fat, saturated fat, or cholesterol intake.”
Unlike Canadian officials, who were willing to revamp their food guide, U.S. regulatory agencies seem unable to confront the obvious confusion over food labels. There are public health consequences stemming from those failures.
The Centers for Disease Controlthat now, “Almost 1 in 5 (12 million) children and more than 1 in 3 (78 million) adults in the United States struggle with obesity, causing $147 billion in obesity-related health care costs each year.”
When the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act of 1990 was passed, 6.2 million Americans, or 2.52 percent of the population, had diabetes.Childhood diabetes has .
While health risks associated with poor diets are increasing, consumers’ use of the food label is. Perhaps there are other approaches such as comprehensive to denote healthier choices or that will suggest better, more individualized healthy choices. Either way, admitting the current approach isn’t working is the first step.