When you go grocery shopping, do you take the time to look at the nutrition facts label that is required by law to be on all packaged foods?

Know your nutrition labels

Image Reading Nutrition Labels Image Reading Nutrition Labels Image Reading Nutrition Labels

When you go grocery shopping, do you take the time to look at the nutrition facts label that is required by law to be on all packaged foods? It is there in plain sight to help you make an informed decision on what you purchase. The first labels that were established many years ago simply had to include a description of the package contents, weight and count. In 1990 Congress passed a law requiring a nutrition label to tell consumers about the nutritional content of the food item. It is read most often by older adults.

A recent study shares with us what folks in the age range of 25-36 are checking; only one-third are reading the nutrition labels.

These are the characteristics of young adults who read the nutrition facts labels:

  • Women
  • Higher education
  • Higher income
  • Physically active
  • Overweight
  • Trying to gain weight

What do young adults check on the nutrition facts label?

  • Serving size
  • Calories
  • Sugar content

The areas that are checked on the nutrition label may be important to young adults. Many probably do not have high cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes or high blood pressure, so they’re not yet checking for saturated fat, trans fats, carbohydrate or sodium content.

The nutrition facts label is getting a makeover by FDA. The calories per serving will be printed in a larger font. Also added to the newly designed labels will be the added sugar content; it will be listed under total sugar content. Potassium will also be listed for its relationship to blood pressure; and then vitamin D content will be on the labels.

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About the Author

Rita Smith is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She's been working in the field of nutrition and disease prevention for more than 35 years and currently works at Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital in Charlottesville, Va. Each week, Rita provides nutrition counseling to clients who have a variety of disorders or diseases including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, gastroparesis and weight management. For these clients, food choices can help them manage their health problems.