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FDA to Redifine Meaning of “Healthy” When it Comes to Food Packaging

October 13, 2016
regional medical center

Many food brands say that their products are healthy, but the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved the use of the word “healthy” on their packaging due to strict guidelines.

Many grab-and-go snacks, like granola bars, are heavy in nuts, which are high in fat. While a granola bar seems like a healthier option for a quick snack than a bag of chips, many of these bars exceeded the FDA’s rigid low-fat definition of healthy.

Fat is misunderstood. It’s often mistaken as unhealthy, when it’s actually an essential nutrient. Egg yolks, avocados, and, yes, nuts, are fat-rich foods that provide energy to their consumers.

Kind, one of the many granola bar producers, launched a petition earlier this year that called for the FDA to redefine “healthy.” Now, the FDA is doing just that.

“As our understanding about nutrition has evolved, we need to make sure the definition for the ‘healthy’ labeling claim stays up to date,” said Douglas Balentine, director of the Office of Nutrition and Food Labeling at the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition.

The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the updated Nutrition Facts label have influenced the FDA’s decision to reevaluate its labeling policies. There is now more emphasis on food groups among dieting patterns, as well as the types of fats consumed, rather than amount. Added sugars are also being accounted for.

While it is recommended that someone on an average 2,000 calorie diet should consume less than 10 teaspoons of sugar per day, the average American consumes 22 teaspoons. In fact, many products that we consume on the daily contain more than one day’s worth of sugar intake in one serving.

Sugar can increase cravings and promote overeating habits. Pediatric care specialists are regional medical centers see more cases of childhood obesity due to the current products that line the shelves of our grocery stores.

The FDA is currently looking for input from health experts, food brands, as well as the public, to make more informed decisions regarding how they regulate food packaging.

If you have experienced health problems or weight gain despite following “healthy” dietary guidelines recommended by the FDA, see a physician at your regional medical center. Urgent care centers most often employ a mix of physicians, nurse practitioners and physician assistants, and more than half have physicians on-site at all times.