Fighting Obesity Needs Education Not Regulation
There is talk of regulating sugar. With all the concern over obesity, someone has proposed regulating "sugar" in much the same way we regulate alcohol. Yes, sugar has a chemical reaction in our human body and we need to be trained and educated about what we decide to eat. Yet, the first course before any regulations, I believe is to offer the consumer an educated choice. Food labels don't have to be regulated, we, the consumer can demand better food labels. We, the consumer should demand greater transparency and better food labels. For you see, the consumer has more power than any regulation.What we need, in order to effectively fight for our health and prevent obesity, is food labels that give us solid and consistent visual information about serving size and ingredients on the front of the food label.
The food labeling the United States needs our help. As consumers, we must demand better labeling. Sadly, the regulators are doing only the basics. Case in point is the lack of disclosure for ammonia in United States beef. Allowing our children to consume beef that has been processed with ammonia is inconceivable. Buying beef at the fast food restaurant and at the grocery store and not knowing it has been processed with ammonia is not inconceivable - I believe it is criminal. Why? We employ an agency to disclose food ingredients and then that agency knowingly hides the "processing" ingredients? Who are we fooling?
The call for transparency of what we are eating must take a higher priority for the American consumer.
The FRONT of the label should show in visual terms, the amount of sugar, the amount of saturated fat, the number of servings per package.
How often have you picked up a package thinking it was a single portion. Then you read the calories and you shrug your shoulders, no big deal. But wait those calories are for only one serving and you are consuming the entire package and the number of servings is 2 or sometimes 3!
Were you fooled? Not really, in this case, the numbers are there in point size 8 on the back of the package and therein is where the problem lies. We need a clear and legible educational choice on the front of the label.
Mexican Coke Has Sugar - American Coke Has Fructose
I Want a Choice in What I Purchase
In the fine print we can find on the back of a bottle of cola, the ingredient - either sugar or fructose. If this information were made available on the front of the bottle and if America had a choice, which coca would you choose?
Do you believe the fine print on the back provides sufficient information for health food choices? Is the print size large enough? Do the ingredients matter to you for you and your family?
There are five issues that make a fist of a hand that can knock America out cold. They're lack of jobs, obesity, diabetes, homelessness, and lack of good education.
Food Labeling Needs - Visual Representation
Sugar Visuals on the Front of the Food Label
Proposal: Let's present the facts clearly and consistently on the front of every food item - on the front with the cubes of sugar.
I need to know what I am consuming.
Look at the differences visually.
The numbers mean something but the visual hits home.
America, let's make a change and demand a visual food label.
Food Label Initiatives From Around the World
There are countries in the world that are making progress with labeling. Let me be perfectly clear, I do not believe in more legislation. I believe in free commerce. I believe if the consumer demands it, the food industry will respond. The question here is do we as consumers want better labeling?
Will better labeling automatically make us thinner and more healthy? Absolutely not. Will better food labelling allow to make informed decisions? Absolutely.
How many times have you consumed that packet of snacks from the convenient store only to find you just consumed 2-4 portions in one sitting? How many times have you eaten a frozen meal only to find out you just consumed 80% of your daily allotment of sodium?
It's time to get the FDA to reverse its 1994 decision not to label GM foods.
— Marion Nestle
The industry's not stupid. The industry knows that if those foods are labeled 'genetically engineered', the public will shy away and won't take them.
— Jeremy Rifkin
Food Labeling Posters From Around the World
Cholestrol and Food Labels
One teaspoon of butter has 33 milligrams of cholesterol. Recommended dosage is 200 milligrams per day. This means I can have 6 teaspoons of butter for the cholesterol limit.
The type of fat is another story - butter has 0.3 grams of trans fats, and 7 grams of saturated fat.
The recommended dosage is less than 2.3 grams of trans fats, and 10 to 15 grams of fat a day.
Margarine has 0 milligrams of cholesterol.
3 grams of trans fats and 2 grams of saturated fat.
Caffeine Charts Visually Showcasing the Amount We Consume
A Call to Action - Food Label Visuals That Work and Inform
The above graphics were the brainchild of a company called Cool Info Graphics. I like their artwork because it does what I need. I need food information and the science behind the food to relate to me.
Here is what they stated about Caffeine: "To emphasize the science behind caffeine, I included this rectangle that looks like it comes from the periodic table of elements. Caffeine isn’t an element, so I could only use the style of the periodic table with this 3-D rendering of a caffeine molecule, the chemical formula of caffeine and the molecular weight." coolinfographics.com
Elements Symbol - Ozone and Ammonia
Processing Ingredients Exposed
A symbol for the processing ingredients used in bottling water, processing beef needs to be standardized and clearly displayed on every bottle and/or package that is offered for sale.
If bottled water is processed or sanitized with ozone, I want to know that fact.
If processed beef was exposed to ammonia, I want to know that fact.
I don't want the fact hidden in small point size 8.
I don't want the figures.
I need a visual - show me truthfully and I will the manufacturer and support the product.
Traffic Light Food Label
Traffic Light Food Label
What is right with the traffic light food label is it is more visual. What is wrong, it doesn't clearly showcase the number of servings or give us a visual of the sugar and cholesterol we are consuming.
Share Your Opinion - Your Thoughts
Share Your Opinion on Food Labeling
Traffic Light Doesn't Work for Me
The traffic light doesn't work for me. Don't share your opinion, give me a visual representation of the facts. SHOW ME ON THE FRONT OF THE FOOD LABEL.
Share your thoughts below. Perhaps traffic light works on the back? I prefer the front of the package, my time is valuable and I want the very best and quickest information at my fingertips not in my hand.
Share Your Opinion on Food and Nutrition
Regulate "Sugar" - I Suggest No
Regulations are something I don't see we need for one. Secondly, I don't know if we as consumers can afford regulations.Here is a novel idea to consider...what if the food manufacturers voluntarily increased the consumer information on the front of the label?
Personal Choice is Key - Food Labels Offer Information for Intelligent Choices
I NEED a food label that tells me on the FRONT, this package contains this many servings.
i NEED a food label that visually shows me the number of sugar cubes I am consuming.
I NEED a food label that visually shows me in point size 10 or larger the number of milligrams of cholesterol.
I NEED to know the food processing "ingredients". If it is ozone, if it is ammonia - don't hide it from me!
I NEED to know the amount of the drug "caffeine" shown visually.
I NEED to know the amount of quinine detailed.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Why am I shouting with the capital letters? Because these are not WANTS - food is a health item. Food label transparency is a critical item for every human being.
Public Affairs and Our Personal Involvement
“If once the people become inattentive to the public affairs, you and I, and Congress and Assemblies, Judges and Governors, shall all become wolves. It seems to be the law of our general nature, in spite of individual exceptions.”
Government's view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.
World Wide Web Setting New Standards of Public Services
Greater personal choice, individually tailored services, stronger local accountability, greater efficiency - these are all central to the new direction of travel we have set for our public services.
Why Have We Included "Food Labels" in Food Safety?
Great question! You see, nutrition is key to our health. Anything related to our health should be a safety item - even IF it is proactive rather than preventative.
All too often, we think of safety as preventing something and perhaps with better food labels we could "prevent" obesity but really aren't we seeking to educate and take a proactive role in our health and nutrition.
The main item here is "knowledge is power". We know we have an obesity problem. We know good nutrition can prevent certain diseases and illness. Yet the food labels have not been addressed in an innovative and proactive manner.
The problem, I feel, is we are "waiting" for government action. Why must we wait for the government? Why can't we as consumers voice our opinion and have the food producers, the larger grocery store chains convey our needs?
Does government always need to be involved?
I don't know too many parents that want to feed their kids soda, but high-fructose corn syrup is cheap. The price of soda in 20 years has gone down 40 percent while the price of whole foods, fruits and vegetables, has gone up 40 percent and obesity goes up right along that curve.
— Tom Colicchio
We Are What We Eat But We Don't Know What We Are Eating
New Bold Design - Transparent Calories on Soda Pop Cans
Grocery Store Chains and Food Producers Call to Action
We Know "We Are What We Eat" But We Need a Quick Reference on the Front Label to Help Us Make Choices
We know "we are what we eat" but we don't have the information to make real choices. We don't have the serving sizes on the front of the label, we don't know the processing ingredients, we don't know the amount of quinine, we need solid information not a traffic lite. We know a cola has sugar, we can "find" the amount of calories if we hunt on the back. We need a visual of the cubes of sugar on the front of food labels. We need the amount of cholesterol on the front of all foods - eggs and produce too.
I know my cola and my juice have allot of sugar. I will still buy and use on a regular basis, even if the package shows me the amount of sugar on the front.
NEWS FLASH to food producers - hiding the facts from me is not a profitable strategy in today's marketplace. I will respect you more, give you more brand loyalty if you are per-emptive and not responsive.
Front Label Options - Let the Food Producers Innovate
What if the American populace spoke up and requested transparency? What if the the food companies innovated on the presentation of the front label of the key ingredients? Let the back of the label remain "regulated" but seek better information on a voluntary basis from the food manufacturer.
Would this be a possibility? What are your thoughts?
What are your thoughts? Can private enterprise handle this radical idea?
Update on Food Labels
The great news is the new labeling on soda is now bold and helpful. Additionally, there are options with a smaller sized can of soda pop.
Legislative Smaller Portions at Convenient Stores
Next we need to see the major snacks take the very same two-step approach: 1.) clearer more transparent labels and 2.) smaller portion options.
Legislation is needed on some items such as GMOs. However, I would like to also see a consideration given to mandating the option of smaller portions at the convenient stores. Have you ever noticed how they only provide bags of items with no less than three servings? Then they detail that fact in a font size equal to under size 6 and then on top of all of that the bag is not resealable. What is wrong with this? The fact that we as consumers accept this deficient food labeling.
In general, I am not in favor of "legislation" ever as a first course of action; I am in favor of consumers demanding choices in the marketplace.
The best rule that I follow for my diet is never to eat out of a bag. The bag contains multiple servings and I just go on and on. Re-seal able bags are readily available. Wasting food, wasting money, wasting our health is a concern that all of us need to be concerned about for ourselves and our families.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2012 Kelly Kline Burnett
Kelly Kline Burnett (author) from Fontana, WI on July 26, 2012:
Thank you so much for stopping by. I just understand why it takes government regulations when the food manufacturers themselves not to mention the retailers are often larger than our government. These companies need to stand up to the plate and not do just what the regulations do - they did to serve the customer and if that means more disclosure for the food products and different product lines, the market forces should prevail.
RTalloni on July 25, 2012:
Food is indeed a health product and safety issues should definitely be addressed on the front of the packaging. Looking at it all as a safety issue makes the difference. You have great points and tips here. Thanks for speaking up!