The FDA is finally catching up with the times. After 22 years, the government agency has finally announced plans to update its definition of "healthy," taking into account new research that has rendered its current demarcation sorely lacking.
Despite the fact that the fundamental tenets of food science and nutrition have changed dramatically over the past two decades, the FDA has not changed its guidelines for "healthy" food since 1994. While recent research suggests that fat is important to a balanced diet, the present definition excludes everything with a high fat content, from avocados to salmon. Today, scientists and doctors alike agree that such rules are not only outdated, but also unhealthy, encouraging consumers to forgo potentially nutritious foods.
Even worse, the 1990’s rules include no guidelines concerning added sugar. Recent research suggests that sugar can lead to everything from obesity to diabetes, even causing addiction under certain circumstances. Strangely enough, however, under the current definition, high-sugar foods such as Pop-Tarts and Frosted Flakes are considered “healthy.”
In 2016, almost no one believes that sugary cereals are more nutritious than salmon, and yet it has taken the FDA 22 years to incorporate such scientific facts into their official rules for healthy eating. Thankfully, the Administration has announced that it will seek input from a variety of sources and experts in crafting its new definition. In the meantime, employ common sense when choosing foods, and remember that no matter how delicious they may be, Pop-Tarts are not a health food!