New nutrition labels aim to help reduce obesity, diabetes, heart disease

The new labels include more information on added sugar, a prime culprit in obesity

New nutrition labels unveiled today by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) take aim at sugar in packaged foods, a prime culprit in obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.

“I am thrilled that the FDA has finalized a new and improved Nutrition Facts label that will be on food products nationwide,” said First Lady Michelle Obama. “This is going to make a real difference in providing families across the country the information they need to make healthy choices.”

The new labels disclose the amount of added sugar with a corresponding line giving the recommended daily intake.

"Right now, it's impossible for consumers who look at a Nutrition Facts label to know how much of the sugar in foods is added and how that amount fits into a reasonable daily diet," said Michael F. Jacobson, president of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, which first petitioned the FDA to put added sugars on Nutrition Facts labels in 1999.

"Besides helping consumers make more informed choices, the new labels should also spur food manufacturers to add less sugar to their products," Jacobson said. 

Key changes

Highlights of the new labels include:

  • An updated design to highlight “calories” and “servings,” two important elements in making informed food choices.
  • Requirements for serving sizes that more closely reflect the amounts of food that people currently eat. What and how much people eat and drink has changed since the last serving size requirements were published in 1993.
  • Declaration of grams and a percent daily value (%DV) for “added sugars” to help consumers know how much sugar has been added to the product.
  • “Dual column” labels to indicate both “per serving” and “per package” calorie and nutrition information for certain multi-serving food products that could be consumed in one sitting or multiple sittings.
  • For packages that are between one and two servings, such as a 20 ounce soda, the calories and other nutrients will be required to be labeled as one serving because people typically consume it in one sitting.
  • “Calories from Fat” will be removed because research shows the type of fat is more important than the amount. “Total Fat,” “Saturated Fat,” and “Trans Fat” will continue to be required.

Most food manufacturers will be required to use the new label by July 26, 2018.

Find a Medical Alert System partner near you.