nutrition workplace wellness

Healthy Nutrition Boost Arrives With Menu Labeling

You may have missed it, but this month marked an important date for good nutrition watchers — and followers — in the U.S.

It also created a new opportunity for well-run workplace wellness program to help educate and engage employees around healthy eating.

As the U.S. FDA reported: “May 7, 2018 is the compliance date for the menu labeling final rule. On this date, consumers will have access to calorie and nutrition information in certain chain establishments covered by the rule. The menu labeling requirements apply to restaurants and similar retail food establishments that are part of a chain with 20 or more locations. In addition, they must be doing business under the same name and offering for sale substantially the same menu items.”

What does this mean?

  • “Covered establishments must disclose the number of calories contained in standard items on menus and menu boards.”
  • “For self-service foods and foods on display, calories must be listed in close proximity and clearly associated with the standard menu item.”
  • “Businesses must also provide, upon request, the following written nutrition information for standard menu items: total calories; total fat; saturated fat; trans fat; cholesterol; sodium; total carbohydrates; sugars; fiber; and protein.”
  • “In addition, two statements must be displayed—one indicating this written information is available upon request, and the other about daily calorie intake, indicating that 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice, but calorie needs vary.”

This new information is particularly useful in the workplace, as FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D noted: “Many have heard me cite this statistic, but it bears repeating because this is a driving factor for us at the FDA and for those in Congress who crafted the law: Americans currently eat and drink about one-third of their calories away from home. At the same time, rates of child and adult obesity in the U.S. are at historic highs.”

Indeed, we previously noted that the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation reports: “Adult obesity rates are showing signs of leveling off, according to the 14th annual State of Obesity: Better Policies for a Healthier America report from the Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF)—but progress could be eroded if programs are cut and policies are weakened.”

“This year, adult obesity rates exceeded 35 percent in five states, 30 percent in 25 states, and 25 percent in 46 states. As of 2000, no state had an obesity rate above 25 percent.”

In the coming days, we’ll explore this issue more, including its potential support for chronic disease management — a key goal for well-run workplace wellness programs.