Revamp of U.S. Nutrition Facts Labeling: Mississippi Approves

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Source: Trust for America's Health

Source: Trust for America’s Health

A 2013 report lists Mississippi as the US state with the highest rate of obese kids (21.7% obese) ages 10-17 and a CDC report identified 14.9% of Mississippi children ages 2-5 years as overweight and 13.7% as obese. Of course, the state of obesity in Mississippi is not solely due to misleading nutritional info food packaging. Mississippi has a strong Southern culture that enjoys rich foods, many of which are unhealthy. In 2013 Reuters interviewed a Mississippi pastor that banned fried chicken at church potlucks due to the volume of funerals due to obesity within the church congregation.

Source: FDA -- (left-original;right-proposed)

Source: FDA — (left-original;right-proposed)

The USDA recently released proposed changes to the Nutrition Facts label. They are the first label alternations since it was introduced in 1993, minus one change in 2006 to address trans fats. The two major changes include making the font size for calorie counts and serving per container larger, and changing the serving sizes to the reflect the actual quantities of packaged food that people eat in one sitting.

As a national advocate for childhood health, First Lady Michelle Obama has offered her support for the initiative. The Grocery Manufacturers Association also released a statement welcoming these changes to the Nutrition Facts panel, as long as those changes help and not confuse consumers. Despite the support of the GMA, a food industry consultant noted that many may not publicly oppose the initiative even if they are displeased with the label changes (due to implementation costs) because industry would be foolish to come out against the First Lady.

While nutritional label changes are only a first step, and one among many steps to follow, it is urgent for Mississippi residents to move towards improving its unhealthy national reputation through offerings of support (during the 90-day comment period ending 6/2/14) by voicing their approval here:

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3 Responses to “Revamp of U.S. Nutrition Facts Labeling: Mississippi Approves”

  1. roxdupuis Says:

    This is an interesting policy and very relevant since obesity is an important public health issue in the United States. I really liked how you linked the federal policy to a more local (state) context. Clearly, there needs to be local support for these types of changes to happen. While I think that these changes to nutrition labels are a step in the right direction, I wonder if a more user-friendly label would be even better (a traffic light system for example or physical activity equivalents for calories–see http://www.publichealthnewswire.org/?p=2064).

  2. Revamp of U.S. Nutrition Facts Labeling: Mississippi Approves … | FINDONE Says:

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  3. arifwadood212 Says:

    Very interesting subject. As someone who often reads food labels, their serving sizes and other “nutritional information” always seemed like hieroglyphics – something that required training, rather than making sense. What is interesting is that Big Food, in an effort to combat this change, has recently proposed to eliminate the food label all together, stating that no one actually reads them and that they are pointless.

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