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Topics: Michelle Obama

First lady Michelle Obama thinks you're too dumb to read a nutrition label

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Beltway Confidential,Opinion,Michelle Obama,Ashe Schow,Food Labels,Nutrition

First lady Michelle Obama unveiled a proposed new nutrition label Thursday, claiming the labels would make it easier for families to tell whether food is healthy.

Because math is hard, or something.

If your “nanny-state” radar is going off, it should.

The new label really doesn’t appear to be much different from the old one. The “servings per container” font is larger and bolder, the “calories” section is much larger and bolder and the “percent daily value” column was moved to the left side (have to spend that tax money on something).

The first lady said the serving size for many foods would be changed, increased for most (like sodas and snack foods) and reduced for others such as yogurt, to better reflect actual eating habits. Because it's so hard to multiply the calories per serving with the number of servings to find out how much you're eating.

As with anything involving the way Americans eat, there was a more-than-healthy dose of condescension. Obama told a hypothetical story of a person trying to get healthy by trying to eat better.

“So you marched into the supermarket, you picked up a can or a box of something, you squinted at that little tiny label, and you were totally and utterly lost,” Obama said.

Just remember that the new label isn’t any bigger than the old one, and only a few words will be in bold or a larger print. But hey, math is hard, right?

“So there you stood, alone in some aisle in a store, the clock ticking away at the precious little time remaining to complete your weekly grocery shopping, and all you could do was scratch your head, confused and bewildered, and wonder, is there too much sugar in this product?” Obama continued.

Is that really what she thinks Americans do at the grocery store?

“Unless you had a thesaurus, a calculator, a microscope or a degree in nutrition — you were out of luck,” Obama said.

Or a sixth-grade education.

But nothing in the proposed nutrition label will change that. Because unless there is a broader campaign to explain how important potassium and protein are, there really isn’t a big difference between the new label and the old.

Oh, and the minor change to the label is estimated to cost the food industry $2 billion. So there's that.

Note: There is another proposed label that breaks up the nutrition facts into three categories: “quick facts,” “avoid too much” and “get enough.” This is at least different-looking than the current label, but I still don't see how it would be any easier to discern nutrition information.

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