Final FDA Rules Guide Consumers Down the Path to Good Nutrition, Says American Heart Association

May 20, 2016 Categories: Advocacy News

Washington, D.C., May 20, 2016 – American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown issued the following comments on the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) final rules to update the Nutrition Facts label and the serving sizes of foods:

“Clear, easy-to-understand food labels will help put Americans on the path to healthy eating. The FDA’s final nutrition rules will ensure that consumers are empowered with the guidance they need to make healthier, more informed food choices that can reduce their risk for heart disease and stroke.

Thanks to these new rules, the formatting and content of the Nutrition Facts label will be updated to emphasize the calorie count. With nearly one in three children and almost 70 percent of adults overweight or obese in our nation, we must do more to make every American aware of how many calories they eat daily. Fortunately, under these rules, the calorie count per serving will be plainly visible on the label. Hopefully, consumers will take note of this information when they shop for food or consider how much to eat. The new labels also will prominently display the serving size, and that information will better reflect what people are actually eating.

For the first time, companies will also be required to provide information on the amount of sugar that has been added to a product. Listing added sugars on a separate line will help consumers determine how much sugar was added by the manufacturer versus the naturally occurring sugar found in foods. This is a significant improvement to the Nutrition Facts label. The American Heart Association, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and countless nutrition experts have long advised consumers to limit the sugar in their diet, but there was no easy way to identify the extra sugar that had been added – until now. We are pleased that the final rule also requires labels to include the Daily Value (DV) for added sugars, which are a big source of excess calories in Americans’ diets. Having the percent DV on the label will help the public gauge how much – or how little – of the product can be consumed while maintaining a healthy diet.

The association is also glad that the Nutrition Facts label will now include an updated DV for sodium, which FDA lowered to 2,300 milligrams a day to match the sodium recommendations in the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines. Reducing sodium consumption from current levels to 2,300 mg can have significant health benefits, and an even greater reduction to no more than 1,500 mg is recommended by the association for optimal heart-health. Because nearly 80 percent of the sodium Americans eat comes from processed, prepackaged and restaurant foods, we are hopeful that the newly lowered DV for sodium, along with the anticipated voluntary sodium targets for industry, will encourage manufacturers to lower the sodium content of their foods. We know some companies are already taking action to lower sodium, and we hope these measures will prompt more companies to do so.

Lastly, we applaud the agency’s requirement to add potassium to the list of nutrients on food labels. Diets high in potassium usually include significant amounts of fruits and vegetables, which are important for cardiovascular health.  

Protecting the cardiovascular health of Americans is a top priority for the association, and healthy eating is a pillar of success. Thanks to the FDA, these final rules will put more useful nutritional information in the hands of all Americans to help them build healthier lives free of heart disease and stroke.”

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Media ContactAbbey Dively (202) 785-7905 abbey.dively@heart.org