Are Nutrition Labels to Blame for Obesity Rates in Kids? | Seventh Generation
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Are Nutrition Labels to Blame for Obesity Rates in Kids?

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Author: Alexandra Pecci

Here's some news for anyone who's been surprised when the "official" serving size of ice cream looks drastically different than what they've just scooped into their bowl. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has proposed updates to the Nutrition Facts label for packaged foods that would, among other things, change serving sizes to reflect what people actually eat, versus what they "should" eat.

Other proposed changes include a new section called "added sugars" and requiring information about the amounts of vitamin D and potassium in the food, since many people are deficient in those two nutrients. The changes would also update the label's format in a way that would emphasize calories, serving sizes, and Percent Daily Value.

So what do these changes mean for the next generation? According to the FDA, the new changes will help the fight against obesity by focusing more attention on calories and serving sizes. No doubt, when people see the actual caloric content of "real" servings they might think twice about the number of scoops of ice cream that wind up in their bowl.

In other childhood obesity news, a bright spot: The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported earlier this year that obesity among 2-5 year olds has dropped 43 percent over the past 10 years. The data showed that the obesity prevalence for this age group went from nearly 14 percent in 2003-2004 to just over 8 percent in 2011-2012.

Although researchers say the "why" behind the obesity decline among small kids isn't 100 percent clear, they have some theories. First, they point to the fact that many child care centers have started to improve their nutrition and physical activity standards over the past few years. Other CDC data show that kids are drinking fewer sugar-sweetened beverages these days. Also, rates for breastfeeding, which some scientists believe can stave off obesity later in life, have also improved over recent years. For instance, the CDC's 2013 Breastfeeding Report Card shows that of infants born in 2010, 49 percent were breastfeeding at six months, up from 35 percent in 2000. The breastfeeding rate at 12 months increased from 16 percent to 27 percent during that same time period.

But tempering the excitement over plummeting obesity rates in 2-5 year olds is another piece of CDC data showing that for other age groups, the obesity rate remains unchanged. Perhaps additional work-such as the USDA's about-to-be-implemented "Smart Snacks in School" nutrition standards which would require healthier foods in schools-will help decrease obesity among everyone.

What do you think is to blame for childhood obesity rates?

About Alexandra Pecci
Alex is a freelance lifestyle writer and sometimes-blogger at http://burningdownmykitchen.blogspot.com/. She loves spending time with her husband and four-year-old daughter, who are always willing to sample her kitchen successes (homemade taco seasoning) and failures (homemade mozzarella). She also loves to write, travel, cook, eat, and laugh loudly with friends.

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