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In January 2018, the Nutrition Facts Label is getting a new look. These changes would include complete ban on trans fats and removing “calories from fat” information, among others. Does this mean choosing healthier options may become easier?

The nutrition label hasn't changed its characteristic for the last 20 years, except a small change in 2006 when the Food and Drug Administration added information about trans fat. The FDA is now determined in their decision to change the label on most processed food products in the U.S. The new label will emphasize total calories, certain nutrients like vitamin D or potassium and added sugars. They are also removing “calories from fat” and changing the serving sizes, since hardly anybody stops drinking juice, or eating something after finishing one serving size. New information will make the whole soda bottle or package of cookies one serving — making the calorie counting much simpler.

Perhaps the most important thing to mention is the fact that trans-unsaturated fat is going to be completely banned as of 2018. Trans fat is the leading cause of heart attack, diabetes, and obesity in America.

The FDA claims it's more important to know what type of fat we are consuming than how much calories it has. New labels will also note the information about added sugars. This is also very important change since it was really hard — not to say impossible — to tell how much of a natural sugar product had and how much was added in the manufacturing process. To sum up, the new label will focus on specific nutrients and total calories in each serving, one serving being the whole purchased product.

A British health organization Royal Society for Public Health has been advocating adding “exercise equivalents” for each product. For example, if we buy soda, they suggest it would be good to have the information how much running or walking would burn off calories from the soda, or any other processed food. The idea behind this is to teach people to be mindful about the amounts of energy that is being consumed, and how the specific food relates to specific activities in their every day lives. It's about encouraging people to be more active. Although we find prompting people to be mindful of the energy they consume a very good idea, it would probably bring even more confusion because it would be hard for some people to realize that no one burns the same amount of calories, not even for the same activity.

Although we're not particularly hopeful that the FDA label changes will beat obesity, it's a good way to start teaching people mindful eating.

Perhaps it would be a good idea to put the information that only natural and real food can improve nation's overall health. When you eat diet full of fruit, vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, nuts and seeds, you don't have to read labels. They don't mean much when you feed your body well because all calories are not equal. It's not the same if you have plate full of broccoli or a can of soda. Even if the number of calories is similar, nutritiously – they can't even be compared.

If your soda has zero calories, it means it has artificial flavors like sucralose or aspartame, equally bad or worse for your health than regular soda. If your mayo says “fat free” we bet it's higher in sugars and additives than usual mayonnaise, because they have to compensate for the taste. It's useful to know what ingredients our cookies have, but it's even better to realize those cookies are not real food and consume them mindfully, because no ban or label can keep us healthy and in shape, only common sense.

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