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Posts Tagged ‘nutrition facts’

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Many things have changed in the American diet since the Nutrition Facts label was introduced 20 years ago.  The Nutrition Facts Label, introduced in 1993, helps consumers make informed choices and maintain dietary practices. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is proposing to update the Nutrition Facts label found on most of the food packages here in the United States.

People today are eating much larger serving sizes than they did years ago.  According to the director of FDA’s Center for Health and Safety and Applied Nutrition, Michael Landa, “Obesity, heart disease and other chronic diseases are leading public health concerns.”  The proposed food label changes plan to bring greater attention to serving size requirements and calories. In addition, the proposed changes include requiring information about “added sugars:”   Many experts recommend consuming fewer calories from added sugars because they can decrease the intake of nutrient-rich foods while increasing caloric intake. Another change proposed is to require manufacturers to declare the amount of potassium and Vitamin D on the label. Calcium and iron would continue to be required; however, Vitamins A and C would now be included on a voluntary basis.

Food serving sizes will get a reality check. The proposed changes include changing the serving sizes requirements to adequately reflect how people actually eat and drink today. In the U.S., serving sizes have changed since they were introduced 20 years ago. By law, the label information will be based on what a typical person actually eats, and not what they “should” be eating. Serving sizes will be more realistic and reflect how MUCH people eat at one time.  Furthermore since package size affects how much a person eats and drinks, under the proposed changes, food packages will be required to label as one serving the amount that is typically eaten at one time.  Currently, the label states the number of servings in the package.  For example in the future, a 20 ounce soft drink that is typically consumed in one sitting would be labeled as one serving.   So, under the changes, both a 12 and a 20 ounce bottle would equal one serving, since people usually drink the entirety of either of those sizes in one sitting. Calories and serving sizes will be more prominent on the newly proposed label. This is highly important in addressing public health concerns for obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease for our nation.

Written by: Susan Zies, Ohio State University Extension Educator, zies.1@osu.edu

Reviewed by:  Cheryl Barber Spires, RD, LD, Ohio State University SNAP-Ed Program Specialist, spires.53@osu.edu

Sources: http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm387418.htm

http://www.fda.gov/downloads/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/UCM387431.pdf

http://www.fda.gov/food/guidanceregulation/guidancedocumentsregulatoryinformation/labelingnutrition/ucm385663.htm

 

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Confused about conflicting nutrition information?  Know where to find reliable nutrition facts based on sound research, or do you feel like you’re swimming in a sea of sharks?

With the advancement of technology, consumers face a daily barage of  “scientific” discoveries, ancient remedies, and miracle weight-loss diets from various media outlets. But how is a person able to identify credible information from false claims?  Overall, how do you stay up-to-date on nutrition and how it affects health?

If you’re like most people, you rely on poplular media – newspapers, television, magazines and the internet – to provide you with the latest nutrition news.  Many people even rely on these channels of information over their health care professional.  For your own good health, it’s worth your time to locate credible sources of information and be able to judge for yourself the value of sound nutrition advice.

When Do We Need Nutrition Advice?  Every day!  However, there are times when you need more information, such as if you…

  • Are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • Have trouble with infant or child feeding
  • Are an “extreme” athlete
  • Have struggled trying to lose or gain weight
  • Are caring for an older parent
  • Want to change your eating habits to help prevent diesease
  • Would like to eat smart to stay healthy

If you’re frequently on the internet, you know how much misinformation proliferates in cyberspace.  Nutrition is no exception; thousands of new blogs, chat rooms, and nutrition-related Web sites appear each year.  Some may be credible and provide sound eating advice, but others may not be science-based.  How can you identify a Web site you can trust?  Ask youself the following:

  1. Who is the sponsor or owner of the site?  Look at the three-letter suffix on the Web address.  If it ends in .edu, it is an educational institution.  A site that ends in .gov is a government agency and a site that is owned by a non-profit organization will have .org  at the end.  These three sites tend to the most credible.  Those sites that end in .com are commerical sites; be sure to scrutinize information from these sites with care.
  2. Does the site have have regular updates?  How current is the information?  Credible sites reflect current research.  Be cautious; being current doesn’t make it totally accurate.
  3. Is the site trying to sell you something?  Is it promoting a specific product?  These can be warning signs for bias.
  4. Does the Web site provide cited sources, or is it based on opinions?  Scientific findings should support the information provided for consumers.

Learn how to be your own judge of nutrition information.  When reading a book or the newspaper, identify the author and his or her qualifications.  Are they affiliated with an accredited institution that offers research?  Ask yourself why the information was published, and if the advice is credible.  Was a study conducted that led to the recommendations?  If so, learn more about the study itself  – was it a long-term study with a large group of people?  What were the characteristics (age, gender, etc.) of the people?  Do other studies support these findings?  Become familiar with the meaning of words used in research.  For example,  “contributes to” does not mean that it “causes”.

When in doubt, check with your health care professional, registered dietitian, or your local library or university.  Hospitals, public health, and your Extension office are other reliable resources.  Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!

Submitted by:  Jennifer Even, Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Hamilton County.

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