Michelle Obama Puts Nutrition Center Stage

The First Lady unveils new standards for labeling nutrition facts on food containers.
3:00 | 02/27/14

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Transcript for Michelle Obama Puts Nutrition Center Stage
This is a special group. Primarily how to get down and get it done -- every four years of her let's move campaign today's announcement that all -- -- was in this country are going to be changed. To be more easily read more helpful. Has the initiative we'll go there when I'm Dan authority or with the schemes. Food nutrition labels. The federal government thinks it's time for a -- over. Today at the White House First Lady Michelle Obama unveiled the new standards are guiding principle here is simple. That you as a parent and a consumer should be able to walk into a grocery store. Pick an item off the shelf and tell whether it's good for -- -- these are the first changes to food labels in two decades here's how it will work. -- currently able and this is how -- will look once the changes go into effect. Calorie count will be much more prominent. And right -- one of the biggest -- putting added sugars those so called empty calories. Right there on the label nutrition experts have been pushing for that for some time the new labels will also take into account Americans dramatically different eating -- Old label was based on what people were actually -- but fifty years ago. So things have changed portion sizes and gotten much much larger right now a single serving its soda. Is considered to be eight ounces but who really -- -- hair going forward a twelve ounce or even a twenty ounce soft drink will be the standard. Consumers -- -- just how many calories they're drinking. As serving ice cream will increase from half a cup to cup that we eat on average. Who just half a -- and her half -- -- -- The new serving size will be a full. Saying the government estimates that the label changes will cost food companies about two billion dollars. But they'll have a couple years to comply with these new standards. Karen Travers ABC news Washington. So the big announcement and what were eating answers talk more about that I want to bring in doctor Christopher Geithner popular excuse me. Clinical tactician and obesity expert from -- sine -- here in New York thinks is happening today because this is a huge announcement twenty years now. We've not touch the way that we get new labels for what we're putting into our bodies. Complex -- -- long overdue about time and it's about -- longer it is an understatement there have been notoriously difficult for people to use and that's. Been almost discouraging for people that may -- wanted to be a little more health conscious from even trying to interpret them so. This is really welcomed change would ever deliberate measure than to make these labels confusing. Not that it's anybody really truly believes -- would ever admit to so we're just happy to see them becoming a little more simple. And emphasized the right things -- but more so how's the -- -- a benefit from these new changes lately. Sure it's a dual benefits -- for people who do use nutrition labels are ready and to understand them. They're going to enjoy this because it's there's more of them right information and less less important information and for people who do want to be calm. More in tune with what they're doing their health and their diet. Com it makes it a little less intimidating a little more easily understandable what do you think is the biggest Bentley -- the biggest change if they're talking about right now we're talking about those empty calories as we just heard -- Described with added sugars being listed out there as well is that that is that the most significant change. I've probably the most significant change to me is -- called the simplest one and it is just emphasizing calories they made it bigger. And older saying hey look at me it's not as if other things aren't important but. That is. Almost definitely the most important thing on the label because -- -- -- -- side by side the new updated version will actually have a much larger number in the calorie I mean almost -- the headlines you can see. Right here from the old label to the new caller's being prominently put up there. Sugar though increasingly. Being demonized by. Folks like yourself as well with another they're putting that emphasis about these empty calories the amount of added sugar that'll be listed on these labels how significant -- that. Extremely significant and it's. Correctly vilified sugar is probably one of the worst things that we can actually put her body and -- Coming to real as we used to think that -- calories calories in calories of its Keller for sugar. It's just as likely to make you fat as a -- from carbohydrate Keller from anything else we're finding out that. Our bodies actually turn sugar in food and fat our bodies easier. Then we turn fat in food into fat our bodies price of -- is free equally bad and this allows us to be able to tell. What are the okay sugars is okay sugars and naturally occurring sugars don't need to worry about things like. For -- lactose the sugars in fruit or dairy products we do need to worry about is all of us. -- -- of sugar that go into service -- -- things like because NL hated -- for years the conventional wisdom had been looking now with the fat content wasn't that was the primary concern that sugar released and taken headline there really is sort of taking pole position the other thing that we're talking about as well is the act is the serving size -- listed on on these things as line if you look at some of these products that are out there right now on the market. You know one of the things that you oftentimes ignore or I often ignore the top as -- serving size one ounces so for example like in this bag of chips is about twelve -- but the servings per container. Is to. Which is exactly what Karen was mentioning her piece is that who just. -- absolutely and for people again who wanted to be healthy let's five years ago. -- -- Say if art is doing a group invariably somebody would have -- -- -- ounce bottle of soda and that's an exact same singers aren't you are asked them use that as example say how many calories are not bottled soda they would look and they would take. A hundred -- And many -- look again look at how many servings on their it's actually 300 and they give you this face. And people don't know it's you know we don't know if it was an intentional. Move by the industry to sort of church people into thinking they were getting fewer calories or less unhealthy products. Than they actually were but. That doesn't matter now -- essentially correcting that misnomer so it's a really good move. -- the other thing is is that this is obviously for consumer that's going to the grocery I'll be able to take a little better look at what they're putting in their -- But when we're going out to eat we're going -- the fast food drive through the portions are often different than what -- -- what were consuming were preparing them ourselves. -- A portion -- that this is something we've known for awhile right portion size are under control on its. No surprise and it's no coincidence that waist lines are expanding as portion size is expanding. -- -- you know as. The as the nation as a whole gets more health conscious. Right. Industries starts -- response that particularly as there is sort of an outcry in industry also learns that they can. Charge the same amount for a reasonable portions and people are actually okay with in a week. -- starting to move away from this just bang for the buck mentality because that's actually hurting us this world coming to find out. Do you think that this is gonna make your job a little bit easier and trying to inform the public or do you think -- does it go far enough these changes. It can always you better any system can always get better and there will be improvements it'll probably take awhile there will be another set of improvements again. Hopefully won't take twenty years this time -- This is a big improvement and does health it helps. Get people into -- you can make it not so intimidating and say a -- they at least make it a little bit easier to pick up the really important stuff so yeah it's it's definitely. It's a good -- could we ever come to a points that a change in the label where the actual portion sizes that we're purchasing might be changed so in other words I'm looking at a box of free samples here and I mean. I -- -- -- as far as the number of server instances twelve servings in this entire box right. I don't he's pretty -- if I did I could probably finish this thing and about five. Right I mean it do you think -- will actually change the so the packaging to size the amount of quantity that we can. Purchase well that has actually start to happen you've seen -- hundred calorie snack packs right those are actually doing quite well on that again is because there's a -- there's a demand we're going to see it prints -- as people again -- To you -- more health conscious. Minds and are willing to purchase these things so. Industry responds for consumer demands and as we edgy K. And get a consumer demand the change -- this'll work cyclically and a positive direction how much of an influence then we'll -- in a figure like the First Lady. Pushing forward this kind of campaign. It is it's great we need all the help that we can Jack as there are. You know experts out there and there -- people that have known that we need to make these changes and in. Trying to get this message out there but the fact is he does he need ears and eyeballs -- and -- need to figure such as Michelle Obama to really be able to capture the media and so when do we see these new labels at the store shelves. Well it's going to be awhile mean this is slow moving ship as most things like this are so. On the giving ninety day -- the FDA's -- accepting public responses for ninety days and then there'll probably be. Some further deliberation and then once they actually do -- accept the changes there's going to be a two year -- period for industry before they actually have to have them on the shelves so. The best guess is product two and half years before you actually -- changed on the shelves who's going to be fighting up against us. Some of the food manufacturers know there are food manufacturers out there that are taking steps on their own -- and doing some of these things that. You really deserve notice and deserve mention but there are other manufacturers that again are more concerned with the bottom line. Com that's are powerful and you have powerful lawyers and lobbyists that will be pushing against us -- one half. The way agency and at two and a half year time period exactly perhaps -- dietary intake would change over the time in the labels will be almost meaningless. Not like this really meaningful a bit of a bit of an optimistic -- Doctor Christopher are there from outside thanks much for stopping -- it's great great inside -- obviously a big change that's been two decades. In the works appreciate that time. This has been an ABC news digital special report complete report right here on ABC news dot conference on Dan -- in New York. Stroke stroke and -- it -- -- yes stroke you know what you got -- and I was -- because consumers -- superheroes. -- we got off.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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