Introduction to Nutrition

Brief Overview of Nutrition Facts Labels

The Original Nutrition Facts Label

The Original Label

In 1990 the FDA enacted the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act, which went into effect in 1994.  The NLEA required labeling of all packaged foods.  The label included  standard serving size, followed by calories per serving.  A total of 15 nutrients are shown:  calories, calories from fat, fatsaturated fattrans fat,  cholesterolsodiumcarbohydratesdietary fibersugarsproteinvitamin Avitamin Ccalcium, and iron.

How to Read the Original Label

1 - Serving information.

This will tell you the size of a single serving and the total number of servings per container (package).

2 - Total calories per serving.

Pay attention to the calories per serving and how many servings you’re really consuming if you eat the whole package. If you double the servings you eat, you double the calories and nutrients.

3 - Limit these nutrients.

Limit the amounts of saturated fat and sodium you eat, and avoid trans fat. 

4 - Get enough of these nutrients.

Make sure you get enough dietary fiber, protein, calcium, iron, vitamins and other nutrients you need every day.

5 - Quick guide to % Daily Value.

The % Daily Value (DV) tells you the percentage of each nutrient in a single serving, in terms of the daily recommended amount. As a guide, if you want to consume less of a nutrient (such as saturated fat or sodium), choose foods with a lower % DV — 5 percent or less. If you want to consume more of a nutrient (such as fiber), seek foods with a higher % DV — 20 percent or more.

The information shown in these panels is based on 2,000 calories a day.  You may need to consume more or less than 2,000 calories depending upon your age, gender, activity level, and whether you’re trying to lose, gain or maintain your weight.

Side by Side Comparison of Two Foods

By comparing foods side by side, an educated choice is easier to make.  You can see that the chips have more calories and fat, however, the pretzels have a little more carbohydrate and much more sodium.  

What would I choose?  The pretzels.  I am not worried about the carbohydrates, but I would definitely rub off at least half the salt before consuming them.

Understanding Labels Video

The New Nutrition Facts Label

Comparison of Old and New Labels

The  new label highlights the number of servings in the package as well as the calories per serving.  Added sugars are noted, and a change in the nutrients that are profiled has also been made.  The purpose of the restyling was to make the label both easier to read and understand, and also improve the relevance of the nutrients highlighted.

Side by Side Comparison

This comparison is a good visual example of the changes that have been made to the label.

Nutrition Facts Labels for Kids

The following nutrients should be limited:

  • Saturated fat, Trans fat and Sodium
  • Total fat, Sodium and Protein
  • Saturated fat, Trans fat and Protein
  • Sodium, Potassium and Calcium

The number of kcalories that are the basis for the Nutrition Facts Label comparisons.

  • 2000 kcals
  • 1800 kcals
  • 2400 kcals
  • 1600 kcals

There are _____ nutrients listed on the Nutrition Facts Label.

There are  nutrients listed on the Nutrition Facts Label.

Is the serving size the same as the number of servings listed on the package?

  • The number of servings listed on the package is not the same as the serving size.
  • The number of servings listed on the package is the same as the serving size.

Which snack cookie is the best choice overall?