March 4, 2020
CHICAGO – The updated Nutrition Facts Label can help the public make more informed decisions about their food and beverage choices. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, understanding the label can make you a wiser shopper and help you eat right.
"Nutrition Facts Labels help you find out which foods are good sources of particular nutrients such as vitamin D or dietary fiber," says registered dietitian nutritionist Lauri Wright, a national spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics in Jacksonville, Fla. "Nutrition Facts Labels can help you compare similar foods so you can select those lower in salt, saturated fat, trans fat and added sugars."
Many manufacturers already have started to use the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's updated Nutrition Facts Label, which was announced in 2016. The new label must appear on all food items by January 1, 2021. The updates are based on the latest information about nutrition and the links between what people eat and chronic diseases such as obesity and cardiovascular disease. The new label reflects the most significant changes since its inception in 1993.
Wright provides tips for understanding the updated Nutrition Facts Label
Understand the Serving Size
The serving sizes on the Nutrition Facts Label have been updated to reflect what people now customarily consume at one time. In addition, the servings per container show the total number of servings in the entire package or container. When comparing foods or drinks, look at the calories, nutrients and serving size to make an accurate comparison.
"Consider the amount you typically eat or drink and compare it to the serving size listed on the label," Wright says. "If what you typically eat is larger than the listed serving size, you will consume more calories, fat and other nutrients listed on the label."
Use the Percent Daily Values as A Guide
The Percent Daily Values help you evaluate how a food fits into your daily eating plan, not just for one meal or snack. Percent Daily Values represent the amount a nutrient contributes based on a serving of that food and in relation to 2,000 calories per day, which is used as general nutrition advice.
"Caloric needs vary depending on a person’s sex, age, height, weight and physical activity levels," Wright says. "Consider consulting a registered dietitian nutritionist to help you determine the number of calories your body needs."
"Percent Daily Values help with the comparison of foods," Wright says. "Look for foods with Percent Daily Values of five percent or lower in saturated fat, sodium and added sugars. Look for foods with Percent Daily Values of 20 percent or higher in vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber."
Seek Out the Expertise of a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
"A registered dietitian nutritionist can help you use the Nutrition Facts Label to achieve your health goals at your own pace," says Wright. Use the Academy's online Find an Expert service to find a registered dietitian nutritionist near you.
To learn more about the updated Nutrition Facts Label, visit the FDA website
National Nutrition Month® 2020
National Nutrition Month®, celebrated each March, encourages people to make informed food choices and develop sound eating and physical activity habits all year long. This year’s theme is Eat Right, Bite by Bite.
As part of National Nutrition Month®, the Academy's website will host resources to spread the message of good nutrition and the importance of an overall healthy lifestyle for people of all ages, genders and backgrounds. The public can also follow National Nutrition Month® on the Academy’s social media channels including Facebook and Twitter using #NationalNutritionMonth.
Representing more than 100,000 credentialed nutrition and dietetics practitioners, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is the world’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. The Academy is committed to improving the nation’s health and advancing the profession of dietetics through research, education and advocacy. Visit the Academy at www.eatright.org.