The US government should pave the way for food companies to make more scientifically based health claims and disclose more on labels to help consumers understand the consequences of what they eat.

Commissioner Mark B. McClellan of the US Food and Drug Administration told the National Food Policy Conference there is obvious demand for diet-conscious alternatives but the alternatives are not necessarily healthy.

One of the best ways to reach obese consumers is through label information not just about calorie or fat content but about the relationship between the food and their health, he said.

“The problem is that right now, there’s not much of a path (through existing FDA regulations) to enable such health claims to be made. So there have been only limited incentives for the food industry to develop better health-promoting foods. And as a result, companies have focused their efforts on competing in other areas like portion size and convenience,” he added.