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Push To Make Food Labels Easier To Read

October 28, 2011, 6:09 PM by Casey Wonnenberg

Push To Make Food Labels Easier To Read
SIOUX FALLS, SD - Most of us would probably agree we'd like to eat healthier. But the majority of Americans do not read nutrition labels.

Researchers at the Institute of Medicine feel that could be causing people to eat more calories without even knowing it. Now, they're pushing for a new nutrition label.

When you're at the grocery store, you might want to get in and out as quickly as possible, so looking at the nutrition label can be just another task. But it's a job that could make a huge difference in your health.

"Because I have diabetes, and I have to watch the sugars. I also have an intolerance to MSG, so I try to get stuff that doesn't have it in it," shopper Alice Hill said.

Hill says she's been reading labels for the past three years. But she's in the minority. A new survey found only about a third of people look at labels, while only about one percent read the whole label.

"That label is pretty in depth, which is great, but yet if you're in a hurry, you maybe don't want to take the time to really compare four different products. You're just going to get the same old thing," Sanford Dietician Teresa Beach said.

That's why the Institute of Medicine is pushing for new food labeling that's easier to read. They want a universal graphic that would show a calorie count, along with information on trans-fats, sodium and sugars.

"The thought is that if it's kind of quick and easy on the front for those who don't take the time to flip the package over and look at the back, maybe they'll make a healthier choice because it's right here, ready to go for them," Beach said.

The graphic would not replace the current label, but instead be an addition. Beach says while it would help Americans who are health-conscious, it probably won't change the minds of those who aren't.

"People are going to probably still pick what they're going to pick. We know that people who choose to read a food label do tend to be healthier and do make better decisions," Beach said.

A healthy decision Hill wants to make not just for herself, but others at her home.

"I have little granddaughters that come over, and I make sure they watch what they eat and they get their fruits and vegetables, and that type of thing," Hill said.

The Food and Drug Administration would have to approve the new labels, which would face an uphill battle with food manufacturers. They're pushing their own version of the labels and don't like the idea of ranking one food as healthier than a competitor's.

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