Food Labels: Fact or Fiction?

How often do you pick up items at the grocery and scan the labels? Do you understand them? Ever wonder if they are really accurate? Many consumers probably glance at them, but based on the current obesity rate today it seems as if people should pay more attention.

Selling food is a big business. Through clever marketing campaigns and tricky labeling, many companies are able to influence your feelings and buying decisions. However, food makers are required to follow guidelines set forth by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Such guidelines include listing health claims and noting the % of daily values per serving.

Health claims link a food or one of its components to a specific disease or health related condition. Classic examples include whole grain cereals advertising that they may lower cholesterol (General Mills) and more recently yogurt products (Yoplait) proclaiming that (3) servings of yogurt a day will help you burn more fat. Fortunately, these claims must be based on solid research. Moreover, only approved health claims may appear on foods that meet the set requirements.

What about daily values? Typically, the label reveals the % of daily value for total fat, saturated fat, total carbohydrates, dietary fiber and protein, which is based on consuming 2,000 calories per day. The daily value does make it easy to compare similar foods because the serving size is usually the same. The tricky part lies in discovering two critical pieces of information. First, the amount of calories required per day varies from person to person based on age and activity level. Second, it is necessary to determine if your serving size is smaller or larger than the serving size listed on the food label. Based on this information, consumers can begin to piece their own nutritional puzzle together.

However, be cautious as you can still be fooled by labels. For example, have you ever purchased fat free cooking spray? Many people assume it is fat free. The reality is that the serving size is so small (1/3 second spray or .25 grams) that it is virtually impossible to spray enough to coat a pan without exceeding the serving size by at least threefold. Another red flag may be the fact that there are 557 servings in one 6 ounce can. Suddenly, in a larger serving size, it is no longer fat free. Wow! Is that legal? Yes, simply because in the serving size listed the fat value is negligible. Ironically, the fat free product managed to add fat to your meal.

The bottom line is this: people should eat a balanced diet based on their activity level, age and caloric needs. Understanding all of this information simply serves as a roadmap to directing consumers to make more informed and healthier food choices.

References

Understanding Food Labels

American Dietetic Association

Brian Schiff, PT, CSCS, is a respected author, physical therapist and fitness expert. You can sign-up for his free online newsletter @ http://www.thefitnessedge.cc.

Copyright © 2005 Brian Schiff

In The News:

Pork belly nutrition  Healthline
Nutrition in older age  Rising Kashmir
Adolescent nutrition  The Lancet

Fruit for Breakfast ? The Secret to a Healthy Life

Do you want more energy? How about more of the... Read More

Why Digestive Enzymes Are Vital To Good Health!

Most digestive disorders develop because of the bodys inability to... Read More

Do You Eat Breakfast?

It is not a myth. Eating breakfast is an important... Read More

Childhood Epidemic Rises 6,000% What Can Be Learned About Autism?

The latest tallies show that over three million people in... Read More

How Food Affects Mood

Everyone can benefit from understanding how food affects our... Read More

Debunking the Myth About Bottled Water: Is It Really Safer for Your Kids?

When you actually sit down and think about it, bottled... Read More

Dietary Sources of Vitamins and Minerals

Whenever possible, we should try to get our antioxidants and... Read More

Heart Health ? Fish Oils To The Rescue

In a world where heart disorders and diseases are becoming... Read More

The Worse Mistakes People Make with Food

There are a number of common food mistakes that costs... Read More

ACAI Berry Named Top 10 Superfoods For Anti-Aging by Dr. Nicholas Perricone

The benefits from eating healthy are endless. And, according to... Read More

Three Steps to Preparing your Body for Summer

Summer is not too far away. It is almost time... Read More

Cherries - The Next Wonder Fruit

Cherries?A Supercharged FruitThe little red fruit that has been enjoyed... Read More

Fluoride in Drinking Water

Are there any benefits to be obtained from drinking water... Read More

Balanced Diet: Know More on Healthy and Nutritional Balanced Diet!

In this fast paced world, good nutrition may sound very... Read More

Whats That In My Food!

If you drop a bomb, you kill not only your... Read More

Good Fats Prevent Chronic Disease

Essential fatty acids are the number one recommendation for anyone... Read More

What A 6-Month Old Can Teach Us About Our Eating Habits

Recently, I had the pleasure of seeing my 6-month old... Read More

Manganese 101

Manganese is a metallic mineral that was discovered by a... Read More

Do You Know Your Bodys ph And Its Relation To Your Health

Do you know your ph? By getting ph strips at... Read More

Prevent Constipation and Other Health Ailments with Papaya

Constipation is a condition whereby the fecal matter traveling through... Read More

Magnesium 101

Magnesium is an important mineral that serves numerous essential functions... Read More

What You Eat Can Protect Your Skin from the Sun

(ARA) - By now you probably think you've heard all... Read More

Maximizing Your Nutrition Dollar

Because of consumer demand, the food industry focus is on... Read More

Avoiding Mental Disorders Through the Aid of Vitamins and Minerals

When we think about the benefits of being ensuring a... Read More

The Fountain of Youth - Right in Front of Us All This Time!

Can we really stop the aging process, slow it down,... Read More