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  Measuring Metric's Limits in the Grocery Aisle
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Last EditedJason  Apr 05, 2012 02:12am
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MediaNewspaper - Wall Street Journal
News DateFriday, March 9, 2012 08:00:00 AM UTC0:0
DescriptionThe fight to persuade Americans to ditch English units for the metric system in their everyday lives is largely lost. And now even some advocates of grams, meters and the like want to make a tactical retreat from the site of one of their few victories: the grocery aisle.

The nutrition labels that have been mandated by the federal government for nearly 20 years list nutrient quantities in grams. A serving of cereal might be one-quarter cup, but that amount contains, say, 2.5 grams of fat and 4 grams of sugar.

Grams remain a foreign quantity to many Americans, who are more used to measuring weight in ounces and food ingredients in teaspoons or tablespoons. The result is that many may not really understand how much fat, protein and—in particular—sugar is in their food.

Much of the nutritional information on food labels is given in metric units, which may make it difficult for Americans to understand the figures.

Americans foiled 1970s-era predictions of a national shift to metric, the collection of units such as kilograms and meters designed to be easily computed and scaled by factors of 10.

That has left advocates of good science and good nutrition with a tough choice: use units on food labels that scientists applaud or ones that consumers easily understand.
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