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NUTRITION FACTS LABELS

As mentioned last week, what we need to focus on is a true change towards healthy eating for a lifetime, versus quick weight loss schemes that may harm us more than help us.  When thinking of changing your lifestyle toward a healthy, sustainable diet, one thing we all should learn to do is properly read Nutrition Labels.

The Nutrition Label is a label required on most packaged foods.  In the United States, the Nutritional Facts Label lists the percentage supplied that is recommended to be met, or to be limited, in one day based on a daily diet of 2,000 kilocalories (kcal).  Nutrition Labels follow the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA).  The RDA is the average daily level of intake considered sufficient by the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine to meet the nutrient requirements of nearly all (97%-98%) healthy people in each life-stage and sex group.

In the early 1950’s, the United States Department of Agriculture nutritionists made a new set of guidelines that also included the number of servings of each food group in order to make it easier for people to receive their RDAs of each nutrient.  The Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) was introduced in 1997 in order to broaden the existing system of the RDA’s, and were revised in 2010.  But these revisions, as mentioned by our blog readers, still really do not address the issues of our diet TODAY.  And evidently, the FDA has heard us, for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is updating the label to help better inform our decisions about food. These changes are based on new scientific research, recent dietary recommendations from expert groups, and suggestions from the public.

We can expect to see the new labels with the next year or so. Some of the changes and how they can help make good food choices, include changes made to calories, serving sizes, sugars, fats, vitamins, and other nutrients.

Some changes to look forward to include:

Sugar content – Sugar that is added as part of the processing or manufacturing of the food will be called out as an “added sugar”.  According to the FDA, it is difficult to meet nutrient needs while staying within calorie limits if you consume more than 10% of your total daily calories from added sugar.

Vitamins content – According to the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture, the actual amount of vitamin D, potassium, calcium, and iron will be included.  These are the important nutrients that Americans do not always get enough of currently.

Calories from fat – “Calories from fat” will no longer appear on labels, however, “total fat”, “saturated fat”, and “trans fat” will remain.  Because knowing the TYPE of fat can be more important than knowing the AMOUNT of fat.

Later this month with TWMed Consulting, we will:

  • Compare the current label with the new one.
  • Learn how soon food manufactures will comply with the new FDA guidelines.
  • Learn more about the importance of reading and using the current nutrition label to help you with your meal planning.

So stay tuned!