The problem of the FDA's new definition of "healthy"

The problem of the FDA’s new definition of “healthy”

On Wednesday, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced Advertise a proposal To update the definition of “healthy” foods, setting out guidelines that products must meet in order to use the term. The goal: To bring the definition more in line with “current nutrition science,” the FDA said, while “enabling consumers” to be more informed about their food and encouraging manufacturers to produce more nutritional foods.

According to the suggested guidelines, in order to use a “healthy” label on food packaging, products must:

  • “Contains a specific, meaningful amount of food from at least one of the food groups or subgroups (eg fruits, vegetables, dairy, etc.) Dietary Guidelines. “
  • “Abiding by certain limits for certain nutrients, such as saturated fat, sodium and added sugars,” which will be stated as a percentage of the daily value for each nutrient. (For example, the limit for sodium is 10 percent of the daily value per serving, which is 230 milligrams per serving.)

The US Food and Drug Administration said the new guidelines would open the door for foods such as nuts and seeds and some oils and high-fat fish such as salmon and water to use a “healthy” label. The organization is also looking at developing a code for food product placement that would identify foods as healthy.

There is no doubt that the FDA needed to reconsider its definition of health, which was First set in 1994. At first, the poster focused primarily on the fat content of food, following the idea that High-fat foods make people fat, which is now known to be wrong. Fat is a macronutrient (and it’s delicious and satiating at that), which means it’s an essential part of anyone’s diet. And the jump from “fat makes people fat” to “low-fat foods should be healthy” is based on the fat-phobic assumption that people with large bodies are Not healthy. The truth is that you can’t tell if someone is healthy based on their appearance or how much they weigh. Health looks different from person to person.

Likewise, determining what makes food healthy is complex. As nutritionists already mentionedThe proposed definition appears to encourage eating whole foods over processed foods. This fits with the modern diet mentality that demonizes less expensive and more processed food products and encourages people to “eat clean,” an undefined and common trend in the 2000s (including by this site). Not all Americans have access to whole, unprocessed foods, especially those who live in food deserts (which affect black and Hispanic neighborhoods more than white neighborhoods, according to the Research). Meanwhile, restrictions on added sugar, sodium and saturated fat perpetuate the idea of ​​it Some foods and nutrients are “bad”, Which may lead to feelings of guilt about food and Troubled eating tendencies. White bread doesn’t have the same nutritional makeup as kale and spinach, but it’s cheaper, lasts longer, is easy to find, and tastes good. There is still a place for these foods in our diets, and guilt about eating something that isn’t labeled “healthy”—whether it’s a matter of preference, cost, or access—doesn’t help anyone feel good about themselves.

It’s also worth noting that a food company has pushed the Food and Drug Administration to update its guidelines, according to Washington Postrather than pushing for change arising from the Food and Drug Administration itself. Snack type He marketed popular snack bars as “healthy,” but received a warning from the Food and Drug Administration in 2015 because the bars (which often contain nuts) were too high in saturated fat to use the term at the time. After the company filed a petition urging the Food and Drug Administration to update its regulations on “healthy” labeling, the FDA allowed Kind to use the term while announcing it would take another look at its definition of the word.

While the proposed definition of the “healthy” label is intended to help consumers make more informed choices, it is closely associated with food companies that focus primarily on making a profit. What does health mean, however, when different bodies react to different foods in different ways? Carrots may sound traditionally healthy, but not if you’re allergic to them. It is worth asking how, if any, these broad connotations serve us.


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