SAN FRANCISCO (Nov. 28, 2014) — Asian Pacific Partners for Empowerment, Advocacy, and Leadership (APPEAL) commends the Food and Drug Administration for its new rules requiring caloric menu labels in chain establishments selling prepared food, but urges further steps to increase awareness about obesity and better protect the country’s most vulnerable communities.
“The new FDA labeling rules are a step in the right direction, in terms of helping some individuals better understand what they’re eating, but those rules do little to help many of the individuals and communities hardest hit by obesity-related disease and death, such as many Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islanders (AANHPIs),” said Rod Lew, executive director of Asian Pacific Partners for Empowerment, Advocacy, and Leadership (APPEAL).
Lew called for more resources to educate communities about the larger benefits of healthy eating and active lifestyle choices, as well as menu labels that provide the same information using easier to understand contextual and interpretive methods, such as traffic light labels, where green, amber, or red symbols are used to represent increasing calorie amounts.
“Many who live in communities facing cultural, language, and socioeconomic challenges don’t have the degree of food and health literacy required to make informed decisions based on abstract numbers printed on a menu,” Lew explained. “The first step in delivering meaningful broad-based tools against obesity is to raise the food and health literacy of those facing the greatest challenges and ensure that the tools provided can be properly used.”
A recent study published in the “Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics” reports that while labeling menus with caloric information decreased calories selected or consumed by some, those with limited food and health literacy skills saw little or no benefit. Rather those with lower food and health literacy skills benefited more from contextual and interpretive nutrition information.
“Obesity is linked to the top three killer of AANHPIs — heart disease, cancer, and stroke — and while the FDA’s efforts to help consumers make healthier food choices to avoid obesity-related disease and death, they should include everyone regardless of culture, language, and socioeconomic status,” Lew said.
Link to journal article: http://www.andjrnl.org/article/S2212-2672(14)00599-1/abstract