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Move Over Tony the Tiger: New FDA Labeling Regulations May Mean Good News for Health Insurance Costs Posted: May 28th, 2010

By Lisa Tortorello

Lisa Tortorello has been a Director of Public Relations and Marketing within a large East Coast health care system for more than 10 years. She has an associate's degree in Liberal Arts and a bachelor's degree in Public Communication.

It's no secret that America has a weight problem. About 127 million people are carrying extra pounds, making obesity the country's second leading cause of preventable death. It is a contributor to more than 30 medical conditions such as coronary artery disease, cancer, stroke, gallbladder disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, joint problems and osteoarthritis.

Obesity also costs our health care system approximately $100 billion annually, leading to increased health care costs and higher health insurance premiums.

Steps Toward Solving the Obesity Problem

Understanding the foods we eat may be the first step toward making real progress in the battle against obesity, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is paving the way. The FDA recently announced it is developing a new regulation that may require food manufactures to place a product's nutritional information on the front of packages and revise the content to be more consumer-friendly. This means the Keebler Elves may be sharing valuable packaging real estate with information about calories, fat and sugar content.

Food manufactures are currently required to include nutritional informational any place on the package that is visible to the consumer. Going forward, the FDA may also require food manufacturers to have a scientific basis for package claims that foods are a healthy choice. In fact, the FDA has already distributed a warning to manufacturers to immediately cease self-labeling, according to Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services.

Food Manufacturers Resistant

The news, which is supported by First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move campaign to combat childhood obesity, has not been well-received by the Snack Food Association. The organization claims that front label packaging mandates would pose large financial burdens on the industry, especially for smaller companies. They argue that because nutritional information is already provided, the FDA should make the change a voluntary one.

Initiatives to help our country fight obesity have been ongoing. The media has shed light on obesity with television shows that focus on healthier lifestyles like the Biggest Loser, Ruby and Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution. In fact, programming that features stories of weight loss may be as common a staple on TV as butter is in America's kitchens.

Why Change Packaging Rules?

Making smarter food choices starts with a better understanding of the products you eat. Becoming healthier could be as crucial to the well being of your body as it is to the costs you incur for health care. Your health insurance premiums are partially based on an estimation of your overall risk for incurring health care expenses. Obesity is considered a risk that may increase the likelihood for the need of medical care, therefore reducing your chances of obtaining cheap medical insurance quotes. Being more aware of what is in the products you consume can help you shed extra pounds and save extra dollars in health insurance.