• The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposes to update the “healthy” claim on food packages as part of a strategy to help improve diet and reduce chronic disease.

The new labels are intended to more quickly and easily communicate nutritional information and help consumers make healthy choices.

The FDA proposal comes immediately after the White House held its Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health and launched a new national strategy to end hunger, improve nutrition, as well as physical activity and reduce diet-related diseases.

According to the FDA, its proposed rule would align the definition of the “healthy” claim with current nutritional science, the updated Nutrition Facts label, and current Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

When a packaged food is healthy according to the FDA

Under the proposed definition, to be labeled with the “healthy” claim on food packaging, products would have to:

Contain a certain significant amount of food from at least one of the food groups or subgroups (such as fruits, vegetables, dairy, etc.) recommended by the dietary guidelines.

Meet specific limits for certain nutrients, such as saturated fat, sodium, and added sugars. These limits are based on a percentage of the Daily Value (DV) for the nutrient and vary by food and food group. The sodium limit is 10% of the DV per serving (230 milligrams per serving).

As an example, the FDA states that a cereal should contain .75 ounces of whole grains and contain no more than 1 gram of saturated fat, 230 milligrams of sodium and 2.5 grams of added sugars.

With the updated “healthy” claim proposal, more foods that are part of a healthy dietary pattern could use the label, including nuts and seeds, fatty fish, certain oils, and water.

Nutrition is key to improving the health of Americans says Xavier Becerra, secretary of health and human services of the United States. The FDA notes that diet-related chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, are the leading causes of death and disability in the country.

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