As the U.S. obesity rate climbs toward an all-time high, the food industry continues to postpone the rollout of new FDA nutrition labelling guidelines that would allow consumers to make healthier choices. “Americans can’t afford these delays. The obesity epidemic is taking a major toll on our waistlines—and our wallets,” says Mindy Haar, Ph.D., RDN, assistant dean, Undergraduate Affairs in NYIT School of Health Professions, in an op-ed published in The Hill.
Obesity puts people at greater risk for many diseases, including diabetes, cancer, stroke, and heart disease—four illnesses, that in total, kill nearly 1.6 million Americans every year, and cost the nation almost $700 billion. While many believe the solution to the obesity crisis is simply to eat healthier, Haar maintains that combatting the epidemic will require federal lawmakers to enact two proposed regulations that would require food manufacturers and chain restaurants to be more transparent about calorie counts and nutrition information.
The first would require chain restaurants to include calorie counts on their menus so customers can make informed choices. The second would update the Nutrition Facts Label—the black-and-white nutritional content box found on everything from soda cans to potato chip bags. Arguing that transparent nutrition labels not only empower consumers to make healthier decisions, Haar notes that the changes will also prompt the food industry to eliminate unhealthy ingredients. Additionally, she advocates for manufacturers to provide realistic serving sizes.
While the FDA has finally announced that beginning in May 2018 restaurants will be required to post calorie counts on menu boards nationwide, Haar urges the agency not to give in to the persistent lobbying that has pressured regulators to postpone this rollout since 2010.
“The obesity epidemic will only worsen—sickening Americans and bankrupting the healthcare system—if regulators continue to cave to the food industry. It’s time for restaurants and manufacturers to tell Americans what’s really in their food,” she concludes.
This op-ed is part of an NYIT thought-leadership campaign designed to help generate awareness and build reputation for the university on topics of national relevance. Read more op-eds by NYIT experts.