Lawmakers are considering several changes to fight the American obesity epidemic.
One option involves a new food label.
The proposed FDA Healthy label would go right on the front of the package.
Any company whose food has a high nutritional value could use it.
The goal is to help people make decisions.
Right now, that's not easy.
Companies often use buzz words like "naturally flavored" to cover up the high sugar content of their products.
People have caught on.
Nearly half of shoppers worry that products marketed as "healthy" are not actually healthy, according to Attest, a British consumer research firm.
“Packaging influences perceptions on healthiness. In many cases, the perception of that healthiness is created by the packaging, and that link is completely inaccurate. To the extent that it's, perhaps, in some cases, even actively misleading. And clearly, some brands are being really successful because of this,” said Jeremy King, CEO of Attest.
The research highlights a major issue: Americans aren't sure what they are buying.
In one experiment, people were given six breakfast bars and were asked to pick the healthiest one.
Only 9% guessed right.
13% said the least healthy option was the healthiest.
People said they were swayed by marketing terms like "100 calories" or "whole grains."
“When you see the word “whole grains”' but it also looks like a delicious iced muffin, and it's purporting itself to be a healthy breakfast bar, and the word “whole grains” is there, that makes you feel good about that choice,” said King.
“You're like, 'Wow, that looks so delicious, but it's also healthy, because whole grains.' Just think to yourself: Is this really as healthy as meets the eye? And flip the package over and have a look at the back, because that's what will bring the health message and data to light for you,” he said.
The FDA Healthy label is slowly making its way through the vetting process.
It may be years before it is widely used.
in the meantime, the FDA must finish updating the official definition of "healthy,” a process that started in 2016.