Masters Thesis

Nutrition labeling: how effective it is in reducing obesity?: a review of public policies dealing with nutrition labeling

Due to the link that has been established between obesity and processed and fast foods in America, recent research has emphasized examining the potential health benefits of providing nutrition information in fighting the nation‘s obesity epidemic. Nutrition label usage has been increasing due to the link between diet and health over the years; however, the rate of obesity has only increased since the passage of the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act (NLEA) of 1990. As a result, there has been increasing threats of legislation and regulation of both food labeling and food marketing practices in such a way that regulatory agencies have pointedly asked: how effective is nutrition labeling in reducing obesity in the US? In attempting to answer this question, the paper focuses on nutrition labeling and its connection to obesity. This policy analysis is designed to provide the reader with an inside look on nutrition labeling policy‘s effect on obesity. It investigates the relationship between nutrition labeling and the rising obesity rates in the US and explores a plethora of practical considerations that must be addressed before labeling policies are implemented. The findings of this study can provide useful information to policy makers and nutrition labeling regulatory agencies on improving nutrition labeling system in the US. Ultimately, this policy analysis finding has the power to call the Nation‘s attention to how pervasive the problem is and how many people are struggling with the labeling system. The project is divided into four chapters as follows: The first chapter discusses the purpose and significant of the study. Here, background of the problem is discussed, the statement of the problem is stated, methods and procedure are stated, and the importance of the study is defined.  Chapter two gives an overview of the problem. This chapter determines the relationship between nutrition labeling and obesity based on previous research. The federal nutrition labeling bill is analyzed. The importance of the bill is highlighted and previous research on nutrition labeling is analyzed which delves into more detail about the nutrition labeling policies. In the last section of this chapter, the potential solutions are briefly discussed. In the third chapter, policy alternatives are analyzed. This chapter explores alternatives policies and solutions to deal with the nutrition labeling, discuss comparison to future consequences, and spillovers and externalities. The end of this chapter explore constrains and political feasibility of the current nutrition labeling policies. The fourth and final chapter of this paper examines the alternatives and provides recommendations. The recommendations are: [1] to provide real serving size of food to make it easier for consumers to understand nutrition information; [2] to improve the ingredient list so that consumers will know exactly what they are getting; [3] for FDA to require labels for unpackaged foods; [4] to get rid of the qualified health claims and replace it with a ―traffic light‖ system; and [5] to specified instead of generalized nutrition information. The findings and conclusions presented in this report were, of course, determined independently. The fact is the current nutrition labeling system is not perfect; therefore, there is still a lot that need to be done when it comes to nutrition labeling in America.

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