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food labelA study published in the August 2011 edition of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that nutrition labels on food in college dining facilities do not affect students’ meal choices.

“I have looked at some of these [labels], but to be honest what I read does not really influence me,” said Megan Sagurton, a sophomore at Emory University.

Sagurton, like many college students, said that if the labels were easier to understand and provided more relevant information, they would influence her food choices.

Emory University senior Tiffany Baerwaldt said, “if there was a simpler way to know whether or not the food I eat is actually good for me or not, I would lean toward foods with labels that provided that information.”

And if the Food and Drug Administration gets their way, that is exactly what a new nutrition facts label will accomplish.

The FDA is in the process of developing a proposal to change several parts of the nutrition facts label in an effort to combat the nation’s obesity epidemic and to provide the public with more valuable information about their food.

The current nutrition facts label provides a quick look into the calories, carbohydrates, grams of fats, cholesterol and protein contained in the food inside the package. Critics have said that it is confusing and doesn’t provide them with an easy way to determine whether or not a food is good for them.

The FDA’s proposal for a new nutrition facts label is expected to suggest changes that will place more emphasis on calories, provide a more accurate portion size and reduce the role of the daily percent values for various substances (fat, sodium, carbohydrates).

And these changes seem to be exactly what college students want from a nutrition label.

Sagurton places the most value on serving sizes. “If you look at the label for a bag of potato chips, their serving size is listed as one ounce,” Sagurton said. “How many chips equal one ounce? Probably not many. Who stops after eating one ounce of chips? I’m not saying that people should only eat one serving of any given food, but I want to be aware of exactly how much food the label is describing.”

To others, like Baerwaldt, calories are the most important part of the nutrition label. “I think that ingredients and calories are the most important information to have on a nutrient label because it is the only way to know exactly what constitutes the food you eat,” Baerwaldt said. “Without that, you have no way of comparing foods with countless preservatives and processed components to those with healthier, natural ingredients.”

Some of these changes could be proposed as early as this year and hit the shelves and college dining halls soon after.

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