Expert’s Corner: Sherry Pagoto on bold new changes for nutrition labels

By Bryan Goodchild and Lisa M. Larson

UMass Medical School Communications

March 05, 2014

The revised nutrition labels proposed by the Food and Drug Administration, featuring prominent calorie counts and more realistic portion sizes, are a welcome change to clinical psychologist Sherry Pagoto, PhD, as she helps teach weight loss patients about healthy eating habits.

“One of the main things that we teach patients about what they are eating is to learn that label,” said Dr. Pagoto, associate professor of medicine. “So if calories are more apparent, if they have a better understanding of what’s a serving size, I think that will be helpful.”

The FDA recently unveiled the new look for the labels, which also include for the first time a listing for added sugars,  an attempt to help Americans realize exactly how much sugar is added to their food. The changes will be up for discussion during a 90-day review period, but it will take months for changes to become final. Manufacturers will be given two years to update their product packaging.

“The FDA is proposing a new Nutrition Facts label for packaged foods to reflect the latest scientific information, including the link between diet and chronic diseases, such as obesity and heart disease,” said FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, MD, in announcing the changes. “The new label would help consumers make better, more informed choices about the foods they eat and help support a healthy diet.”