Communication Changes for a Healthier America
Perspectives > Blog Post

Communication Changes for a Healthier America

May 12, 2014

Lori Latusek

We’re constantly hearing how “fat” America is, with about one-third of the nation’s adults qualifying as obese and these rates rising for decades. Perhaps a big step toward seeing lower numbers on weight scales is making small changes to nutrition labels – something Michelle Obama is pushing for in the midst of her constant efforts for healthier eating habits across the nation. According to a recent study by Kelton Global, many Americans claim if nutrition labels were easier to read and understand, they would be more likely to purchase healthier food (46%), become more conscious of what they eat (45%), and adopt a healthier lifestyle (34%). And more than one-third (35%) say this would boost their trust in labels.

We’re constantly hearing how “fat” America is, with about one-third of the nation’s adults qualifying as obese and these rates rising for decades. Perhaps a big step toward seeing lower numbers on weight scales is making small changes to nutrition labels – something Michelle Obama is pushing for in the midst of her constant efforts for healthier eating habits across the nation.

Current labels in the U.S. were introduced 20 years ago to help consumers make informed food choices and maintain healthy diets. However, nutrition science has changed since this inception, as should the way it’s communicated to consumers.

Backed by the First Lady’s initiative, the FDA proposed a law in February to update nutrition labels found on most food packages in the United States.  These updates reflect experts’ current understanding of the appropriate average calorie intake, enlarging font for serving size and calorie counts, as well as regulated serving sizes that are more in-line with actual typical portions. Such adjustments could help address obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease, as well as push the industry to create better products.

At the end of this month, the 90 days the FDA is required to take to hear public comments and feedback will expire.  But don’t expect to see changes on your shelves anytime soon.  It could take longer than a year for FDA to decide on modifications, and two years for companies to implement these changes.

Hopefully this transition will be put on a faster track.   A recent study by Kelton Global reveals with positive changes, these proposed edits could push forward.  Many Americans claim if nutrition labels were easier to read and understand, they would be more likely to purchase healthier food (46%), become more conscious of what they eat (45%), and adopt a healthier lifestyle (34%).  And more than one-third (35%) say this would boost their trust in labels.

It’s no wonder so many would see simpler communication of food contents as an improvement.  Current nutrition labels aren’t living up to shoppers’ desire to implement healthy habits.  More than three in five (62%) Americans admit they cannot determine whether a food item is good for them based on the current system.  Another 57 percent assert they simply don’t understand what they’re reading.  In fact, there are so many distractions and unwanted information on current labels that 65 percent feel they don’t know what nutrients to focus on.  Americans could clearly use a solution that eliminates noise and zones in on what factors make a difference to their health.

Lori Latusek

Associate Director, Communications & Media Practice

As Associate Director of Kelton’s Communications & Media Practice, Lori is in charge of working with the world’s largest PR and communications agencies and their clients to create compelling...

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