America’s food has become super-sized, and we have the waistlines to prove it.

Now that the new U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) food label is finalized, all that should change.

The new food label takes effect in July 2018.

The old food label has been around since 1993, well before our food portions grew larger than the rest of the world’s.

And well before the incidence of obesity and diabetes skyrocketed, along with risks for cancer, heart disease and stroke.

A side-by-side comparison

The new label (on the right) offers quick, at-a-glance information about exactly what you’re eating and drinking.

Calories per serving are boldly displayed. Serving size and servings per container are more prominent.

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1. “Added sugars” are displayed prominently.

The old label (left) lists only “sugars.” That means a fruit-flavored yogurt combines added sugars (like corn syrup) with natural sugars (lactose).

In other words, the added sugars are hidden. Is it any wonder our sugar consumption has soared?

The new label calls out “added sugars” separately, along with their percent daily value, to help you track your added sugars for the day.

The American Heart Association recommends that women eat no more than 100 calories (6 teaspoons), and that men eat no more than 150 calories (9 teaspoons), of added sugars daily.

2. Serving sizes are getting real.

The old label is misleading for items that contain one to two servings but are normally consumed in a one sitting.

For example, the old label for a bottle of cola lists only the calories for one serving. But the bottle actually holds 2½ servings.

It’s up to you to do to the math and multiply the calories by the number of servings. Too often, that doesn’t happen.

The new label shows calories and other nutrients for the whole container.

It also reflects today’s serving sizes:

  • Bottles of soda are typically 20 ounces instead of 8.
  • Cans of soup are often 15 ounces instead of 11 ounces.
  • Servings of ice cream are usually 2/3 cup, not 1/2 cup.

3. We’re ditching the idea that all fat is “bad.”

The old label calls out “calories from fat.” This suggests that all calories from fat are tied to weight gain.

The new label does away with this category. This reflects our new understanding that swapping healthy fats for unhealthy carbohydrates can actually help you lose weight — not gain it!

Other changes to look forward to

The old label lists only the “percent daily value” for key vitamins and minerals, requiring us, again, to do the math for:

  • Vitamin D
  • Calcium
  • Iron
  • Potassium

The new label shows us the amounts, as well as the “percent daily value,” for each one.

In addition, new percent daily values — for vitamin D, dietary fiber and, most importantly, sodium — reflect our improved understanding of their role in a healthy diet.

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