What you need to know about planned new nutrition labels

(CBS) - Major changes are planned for how foods are labeled in the U.S. The move is designed to address the reality of how Americans now eat.

First lady Michelle Obama will join the Food and Drug Administration Thursday to announce the planned changes, and the government recently unveiled two proposals. Together, they mark the first major overhaul since 1994.

One of the most important label changes is serving sizes, according to nutritionist Lisa Young. "They've made the serving sizes more realistic," she said. "We're eating more than we used to eat."

"Because they're making the serving sizes bigger, the FDA is not telling us we should eat more. They're just telling us what's really in this product."

In the case of ice cream, for example, a half-cup serving will no longer be used, but rather a larger portion that's more realistic, Young said.

A bold and larger font calorie count will also appear on the labels, as well as added sugar -- a new and welcome labeling, Young said. "Obesity is a big problem and we need to really cut to the chase and focus on the things that really matter," she said.

Young, author of "The Portion Teller Plan" and an adjunct professor of nutrition at New York University, endorses many of the changes but said the label falls short in one area. "They're going to have things like cups, units, (but) they still are doing metric (measurement) with grams," she said. "I would prefer to see ounces."

There will be a 90-day public comment period, after which changes would be phased in over a two-year period. The changes are estimated to cost the food industry $2 billion, according to the FDA.


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