Amy M. Lando, MPP, and Serena C. Lo, Ph.D., of the Food and Drug Administration's, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, College Park, Maryland, conducted an online study with more than 9,000 participants in an effort to redesign the Nutrition Facts label on food so people can more easily count calories. The research will be published in the Feb. 2013 issue of the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and was reviewed at the Eureka Alert website on Jan. 23, 2012.
Two nutrition labeling changes could have the potential to make nutritional content information easier to understand: 1) dual-column information that details single serving and total package nutrition information, and 2) declaring nutritional information for the entire container.
Study participants evaluated nine modified Nutrition Facts labels and the current label format for four fictitious products (two frozen meals and two grab-and-go bags of chips). The labels were classified into three groups. The first group of labels used a single-column format to display information for products with two servings per container; the second group used versions of a dual-column format to display information for products with two servings per container; and the third group used single-column formats that listed the contents of the product as a single, large serving.
Study investigators determined that participants could more accurately assess the number of calories or amount of fat or other nutrients per serving and in the entire package when a single, large serving per container format or a dual-column format was used.
Unstated but self evident in this research is the fact that a majority of people cannot do simple math like division to help them with their desire to lose weight. Thus the onus of reformatting the labels and packaging becomes the manufacturers added expense that will increase the price of food.