Nutrition Labels Need a Makeover

July 21st, 2011 | General News, Nutrition and Health

I’m going to be upfront on this. Nutrition labels on food are confusing. Serving sizes, grams, milligrams, and percentages — I want to have lunch, not take a math test. But in the end, we need this information to understand what we’re about to put into our bodies.

I can deal with this responsibility. But what if I quickly want to know if something is healthy or not? The food industry and the Obama administration came up with the idea of package-front labels, which would provide an easy-to-read visual of nutritional facts.

Below is what they came up with. You can read more about this plan:


There’s much controversy over this design, ultimately saying that it doesn’t get the job done of quickly representing the nutritional value of the food.

In our visually oriented, paragraph-skimming American culture, we need something that will immediately allow us to understand if the food we’re about to purchase is healthy or unhealthy.

Color coding is a simple solution. The UK uses the traffic light system pictured below to define nutritional values. Green means go for it. Red means warning. Simple.

But it would also be nice to see if there are high, or low, levels of good things, like Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Calcium, etc. We can’t have the same stop light system because we want higher levels of vitamins. This would only make things more confusing. And manufacturers could make salty, fatty foods that are packed with fiber and slap a green light on the front of the package.

Perhaps something like what’s pictured below. We’ll use the same stop light technique to demonstrate overall nutritional value, but visually show the levels of sodium, sugar, fat and saturated fats based on the size of the text. See the words FAT and SUGAR in your face at the store, you may think twice before picking it up.

New Nutrition Labels

The side notes — Go for a run, Proud of you and Go for a walk — may be a little blunt, but when it comes to your health, why not be? Would you not reach for the food saying “Proud of You” before anything else?

What do you think? Should this even be an issue at all? Should we all just pay attention to the nutrition label on the back and take the responsibility into our own hands? Let us know in the comments!

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