The AAFP is voicing strong opposition to an FDA proposal to further delay enforcement of long-standing final rules that require more accurate nutrition labeling on food products and menus.
A proposed rule published in the Oct. 2 Federal Register(www.gpo.gov) would allow an additional 18 months for nutrition information labels to be updated. In announcing the proposed rule, the FDA said companies need more time to obtain guidance on compliance from the agency. But the AAFP said these entities have had ample time to comply with regulations that were supposed to take effect one year after enactment of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010.
"The AAFP finds this proposed rule and further delay in complying with food menu labeling requirements preposterous," said the AAFP in a strongly worded letter(2 page PDF) to the FDA dated Oct. 16.
"The AAFP is extremely concerned that the FDA yet again proposes to extend the compliance date for requiring disclosure of nutrition information for standard menu items in many restaurants," the letter stated. "While nutrition labeling of menus alone will not eliminate this crisis (of overweight and obesity), the extent of the problem demands immediate action and this small but important step should be enforced now."
Highlighting how unnecessary the proposed delay is, the AAFP pointed out that large corporations impacted by the statute already provide nutritional information to consumers who request it.
The letter marks the second time this year(2 page PDF) that the AAFP has pressed the FDA to begin enforcing the nutrition labeling rules.
More accurate food labeling is essential to addressing the nation's obesity problem and promoting healthier eating habits. The AAFP noted that partly because of poor diet, one out of five children in the United States is overweight, a rate that has tripled in the past 30 years. Further, preschool children who are overweight or obese are five times more likely to be overweight or obese when they are adults compared with their normal-weight peers.
In addition, people who are overweight or obese report greater risk for chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and chronic kidney disease.
"The AAFP perceives sound nutrition as a cornerstone of health, and we believe that food menu labeling requirements will help improve patients' knowledge of nutritional choices," the letter stated. "Furthermore, we believe that food menu labeling requirements will begin to help address the widespread prevalence of obesity in the United States."
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