FTC urges review of food label serving sizes

December 19, 2003 in Nutrition Topics in the News

FTC urges review of food label serving sizes

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission says the government should take another look at the serving sizes listed on food products, saying confusion may cause people to underestimate how much they are actually eating. In a recommendation to the Food and Drug Administration, the FTC said serving sizes should be revisited because they may significantly understate the amount of particular foods and calories that people typically consume.

If the portion sizes that Americans currently consume are substantially larger than the serving sizes presented on the package, consumers may underestimate the number of calories and other nutrients they eat. In addition, the FTC recommends that the FDA look at whether serving size listings are sufficiently clear and prominent.

Food labels spell out how many calories there are per serving, how many servings are in the package, how much fat, cholesterol, sodium, carbohydrate, sugar, fiber and protein it contains and details of some key vitamins. The FDA is currently considering changing food labeling regulations so consumers can more easily figure what is in the food they eat.

More than two-thirds of American adults are overweight or obese, raising their risk of heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers. Clearing up the confusion over serving sizes could convince people to eat less and help them make better choices about the kinds of foods they eat.

The serving sizes mandated on the "nutrition facts panel" of food packages date back to the 1970s, and there is evidence that people eat larger portions than they did then.

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