On September 28, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposed an updated definition of the term “healthy“ When used on food labels, to be more consistent with the latest nutritional science and current Dietary Guidelines for Americans, according to the new version.
The change in “health” label requirements is part of a larger National Strategy on hunger, nutrition and health aimed at reducing some chronic diseases caused by eating habits and promoting health equity.
“Nutrition is key to improving our nation’s health,” he said. Xavier BecerraSecretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), in the press release. “Healthy food can reduce the risk of chronic disease. But many people may not know what constitutes healthy food. The FDA’s move will help educate more Americans to improve health outcomes, address health disparities, and save lives.”
Says the proposal to change nutrition requirements to a “healthy” claim is a good move by the Food and Drug Administration Sylvie Rajagopal, MD, MPHD., assistant professor of medicine and a specialist in obesity medicine at Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore. “Over time, nutrition research has improved and our understanding of diseases has also improved. For example, we now understand that different types of fat affect the body in different ways — they are not all good or all bad,” she says.
Dr Rajagopal says these changes will better reflect this understanding. “It can be differentiated between what is healthy and what is unhealthy, and the FDA is trying to pass that information on to the consumer in an easy-to-use way,” she says.
According to current guidelines, nuts and seeds are not healthy
The definition of “healthy” as nutritional content that food manufacturers claim could be used was established in 1994 and has not been updated since then, according to Food and Drug Administration. This definition does not allow foods rich in nutrients, such as whole nuts and seeds, to be considered healthy. In some cases, foods with excess saturated fat, sodium, and added sugars are also allowed to make the health claim.
Many people He became aware of the problem in 2015when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sent a warning letter to KIND, a New York City-based snack food company, requesting that the word “healthy” be removed from four KIND products, known as KIND Bars.
The bars were full of nuts, seeds, and dried berries, and didn’t meet the base’s “low-fat” requirement, which didn’t take into account the healthy fats that come from nuts. Current FDA guidelines, then and now, do not include any restrictions on added sugar or require that foods contain a certain amount from a recommended food group.
This means that foods like salmon, avocado, and almonds aren’t considered “healthy,” but foods that are low in fat but high in added sugars, such as fat-free chocolate pudding, sweetened cereal, and low-fat toasted pretzels, do.
Later that year, KIND asked the Food and Drug Administration to revise the definition of “healthy” to bring it into line with dietary guidelines, which already encourage the consumption of nuts and count dried fruits in fruit intake. In 2016, the agency resolved the issue with the company, stating that it would not contest “health” if it appeared as part of the company’s philosophy where it did not appear on the same display board as claims for nutrient content or nutrition information.
Current regulations leave many people struggling to decide which foods are healthy
As an obesity medicine specialist, Rajagopal has daily conversations with people about healthy eating and lifestyle. “What I learn from my patients is that in the current environment there is a lot of confusion about what is healthy and what is not because they receive a lot of mixed messages,” she says.
“I’ll hear things like, ‘I bought this granola bar because it has a ‘smart’ label, or it says it’s made with whole grains, or the packaging says it’s healthy.” But then, if we look closely at the label, there may be a lot of added sugars and it may be lacking in good nutritional content,” says Rajagopal.
Unless they go to school for a degree in nutrition, very few people know how to read a food label, she says. “Because they may not know how to interpret the label themselves, they have to get rid of what they see on the packaging; they have to make quick decisions and do their best.”
Rajagopal believes that clear and accurate labeling that adheres to a specific standard that reflects what we currently know about nutrition will be beneficial to people. “This is important, because eating a lot of certain types of foods can actually be very harmful. This proposal tells food manufacturers, if you want to say something is healthy and put it as a healthy product, you have to limit some things” .
Suggested labeling will set limits on added sugars and sodium
Under the proposed definition, for food packaging to carry a “healthy” label, products would need:
- Contains a certain, meaningful amount of food from at least one of the food groups or subgroups (eg fruits, vegetables, dairy products) recommended by the Dietary Guidelines.
- Stick to certain limits for certain nutrients, such as saturated fat, sodium, and added sugar. Limits are based on a percentage of the Daily Value (DV) for the nutrient and vary depending on the food and food group.
- The limit for sodium is 10 percent of the daily value per serving (230 milligrams [mg] For every meal).
For example, a cereal must have an ounce of whole grain and no more than 1 gram (g) of saturated fat, no more than 230 mg of sodium, and no more than 2.5 grams of added sugars to be classified as “healthy.”
Most Americans don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables
The Food and Drug Administration sees this as one way to address and improve the way Americans eat. according to Dietary Guidelines for America, 2020-2025. These guidelines recommend eating 1.5 to 2 cups of fruit each day, and 2 to 3 cups of vegetables each day, including legumes.
Three out of four people eat more than the recommended limit for saturated fat, and 90 percent of the population exceed the chronic disease risk reduction limits for sodium.
Diet-related chronic diseases disproportionately affect black people
This is concerning, because unhealthy dietary patterns can increase the risk of developing some of the most common chronic diseases, according to the agency.
Diet-related chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, are the leading causes of death and disability in the United States and disproportionately affect racial and ethnic minorities. Robert M. Califf, MDcommissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, in the press release.
For example, while more than 4 in 10 American adults have high blood pressure, that number rises to nearly 6 in 10 for non-Hispanic black adults.
11 million deaths a year: the global cost of unhealthy eating
Nutrition is the cornerstone of health, says Rajagopal, a fact that has been largely underestimated until recently. “Modern health care has evolved in a way that values treatments and responses to disease over prevention,” she says.
It took some time, but we finally realized that lifestyle and nutrition really play a big role in disease onset, as well as disease management, says Rajagopal.
And this problem isn’t just in the United States – it’s a problem around the world. It is estimated that 11 million deaths and 255 million years of life lost are attributable to unhealthy eating, according to a A study published in April 2019 in scalpel. The researchers highlighted high sodium intake and low intake of whole grains, fruits and vegetables as major contributors to the health crisis.
a The study was published in October 2020 in European Heart Journal: quality of care and clinical outcomes The researchers concluded that two-thirds of heart disease-related deaths worldwide could be linked to food choices – and the authors estimated that six million deaths could have been avoided through a better diet.
The FDA wants to hear from you
If you would like to share your thoughts on a proposed change, you may submit feedback to the FDA for up to 90 days after the announcement was made.
Send email comments to http://www.regulations.gov. Submit written comments to Dockets Administration Personnel (HFA-305), Food and Drug Administration, 5630 Fishers Lane, Room 1061, Rockville, MD 20852. All comments must be identified with registry number FDA-2016-D-2335.
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