The word “healthy” is getting a new definition thanks to the FDA

When it comes to determining whether or not our food is “healthy,” there is a lot to consider. That’s why it’s so fascinating — and important — that the FDA is now reconsidering their own definition of “healthy” and who can use it as a label on our food. Just think about the last time you were at your local grocery store: How many items are labeled “healthy?”

And just what does “healthy” signify, anyway? Depending on our own dietary needs, preferences, and lifestyle, healthy can mean very different things to different people.

If you’re passionate about what it means for food to earn that “healthy” label, you can tell the FDA directly. Seriously: You can submit your feedback electronically and let the FDA know what you personally think should go into their label of “healthy” foods. Given that many consumers look to nutritional labels when it comes to deciding what purchases we make, the “healthy” label is no small influence.


As Allison Aubrey explains over at NPR’s The Salt, our ideas about what qualifies as “healthy” food doesn’t always match the definition the FDA currently uses. For example, many of us think that a natural, whole-foods based fruit and nut bar would be pretty healthy, right? As Aubrey points out, according to the FDA’s guidelines that advocate for a low-fat diet, that nut bar you eat for your morning snack might actually not qualify for the “healthy” label because of its fat content. Confusing, right?

Now, some people eat low-fat diets, some people eat high-fat diets, and some people don’t monitor their fat intake at all. Ideally, with food labels, we stay away from promoting one kind of diet as “right” or “wrong” and focus more on informing consumers about what, exactly, they are consuming.

Hopefully as the FDA revisits their guidelines, we become more empowered as consumers about what we’re putting into our bodies and what it means for our health.

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