New nutritional information rules are long overdue

Fast-food chains, restaurants and some vending companies will now have to post their nutritional information on the front of their packaging and menus if new rules proposed by the Food and Drug Administration are passed, according to an April 1 article from the Los Angeles Times.

The new rules would also apply to coffee shops and convenience and grocery stores, but would not apply to movie theaters, bowling alleys, alcoholic beverages or airline food, according to the article. These new rules are meant to help the fight against obesity in America, and they are long overdue.

There is no reason for such nutritional information to not be made highly visible. The calorie content of certain “staple” fast-food items is absolutely ridiculous. For example, a venti latté from Starbucks with whole milk has 290 calories, with 140 of those coming from fat.

The “Super Size Me” image of American foods is out of control. It seems that people are no longer satisfied with the occasional treat — they demand those treats daily, even at every meal with little to no regard of a possibly greater nutritional value, or lack thereof.

According to a question and answer section on the FDA website about the new rules, the FDA hopes to issue its final rules by the end of the year and have them go into effect six months after the rules are finalized.

Calorie content of standard menu items would have to be prominently displayed on all menus and menu boards as well as above items at salad bars, according to the new rules.

The rules would require such information as total calories, calories from fat, total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, total carbohydrates, sugars, dietary fiber, and protein to be available upon request at restaurants, according to the website. Restaurants also would be required to have information letting consumers know when further nutritional information is available.

The displays would also have a disclaimer statement explaining that while the percentages of recommended calories are based on 2,000-calorie diets, some people may require a different amount of daily calories to maintain a healthy lifestyle, according to the website.

It doesn’t make sense that one should be consuming food items without knowing exactly what is in them. There is no way to make an educated, healthy informed decision without these new displays.

Obesity is a major problem in the U.S. — according to the Los Angeles Times article, the rate of obesity in the U.S. has more than doubled from 14.5 percent of adults in 1971 to 35 percent in 2008. The FDA’s new rules are just another step in the healthy direction. If younger generations can grow up comfortable with food labels and understanding what those labels mean, they are more likely to make decisions in their best interest.

While certain industries, such as the movie theater industry, have managed to wiggle their way out of joining this food information revolution by lobbying, according to the article, the time for a change in our eating habits has come, and now it will be easier than ever.

Bailey McGowan is a sophomore broadcast journalism major from Burkburnett.