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Michelle Obama to Unveil Proposal to Overhaul Nutrition Labels

First lady Michelle Obama on Thursday will propose changes to nutrition labels on food products, saying the new design must bring more attention to calories and serving sizes.

“Our guiding principle here is very simple: that you as a parent and a consumer should be able to walk into your local grocery store, pick up an item off the shelf and be able to tell whether it’s good for your family,” Obama will say, according to advance excerpts of her remarks provided by the White House. “So this is a big deal, and it’s going to make a big difference for families all across this country.”

Among the proposed revisions to the nutrition labels: Listing the amount of “added sugars” in a food product, updating serving sizes the Obama administration contends are inflated, and displaying the total calories for an entire package of food.

“We think it’s absolutely vital to the long-term health of the country,” a senior administration official said of the effort, previewing Thursday’s announcement for reporters.

The first lady will announce the proposal along with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg.

Administration officials said the public would have the chance to weigh in on the proposal before the FDA moves forward on finalizing the new labeling.

The announcement from the first lady follows her latest push to end the marketing of junk food and sugary drinks in schools. Obama said this week that schools should get rid of vending machines, cups and other promotional materials that feature the names of soft drink companies.

The White House’s public health campaign comes as they cheer the announcement that obesity rates over the last decade have plummeted by 43 percent among 2 to 5 year olds.

“Progress of this magnitude can only be explained by the leadership and hard work we are seeing across this country,” the first lady said.

However, obesity rates have not slowed at similar rates among older children. Critics of the first lady’s efforts say she is pursuing “nanny-state” solutions for problems that families, not the government, should address.


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