Calorie counting is on few–if any–people’s lists of favorite things to do. In fact, many people have a love-hate relationship with nutrition labels and menus with calorie information, particularly when craving our favorite dish or dessert.
But, understanding nutrition labels and calorie information does help us make better choices about what we eat–even if it’s swapping a 250-calorie donut for a 400-calorie muffin in addition to our morning coffee. Thanks to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), we’ll soon have clearer and more useful information on nutrition labels.
Changes in nutrition labels
In 2016, the FDA published new regulations requiring food manufacturers to change nutrition labels to reflect current research on the connection between food choices and chronic diseases such as obesity and heart disease. The FDA requires food manufacturers with revenues higher than $10 million to have the new labels on shelves by January 1, 2020; those with revenues lower than that threshold have an additional year to comply.
Some of the most notable changes include:
- Calorie information is bigger and bolder. It will be easier to see the calories at a glance. Some will find this information useful for weight management.
- Serving size information is more prominent and reflects what a person is likely to consume. For example, a 20-ounce Pepsi label will now indicate it’s one serving versus 2.5 servings–and the calorie information will reflect that. Before there was too much multiplication involved in determining the true calorie information.
- New line includes added sugar information. Some sugars are naturally in the foods and beverages we consume. Others are added during the manufacturing process. The new line breaks down how many sugars are added versus there naturally.
- (See Welia Health blog post Added sugar—where is it hiding)
- Information added about vitamin D and potassium. Vitamin D deficiency is found in approximately 42% of people in the United States and plays a role in cardiovascular disease, bone health, cancer and diabetes. A national survey also showed that 98% of Americans are not getting the recommended daily amount of potassium. A deficiency of this essential mineral can lead to weakness and fatigue, muscle cramps, heart palpitations, breathing difficulties, digestive symptoms and mood changes. Adequate potassium intake can reduce blood pressure.
- Information removed about vitamin C and vitamin A. It’s uncommon for people to be deficient in these vitamins so the requirement to list these vitamins has been removed.
For additional information about the changes in the nutrition labels, visit the FDA website.
Calorie information now available at Welia Health’s dining center
The Welia Health dining center is now open to the public, and we felt it was important to make the nutrition information available on the foods we serve.
So earlier this year, the Welia Health food service purchased a nutrition label maker to ensure all foods served to customers would include nutritional information. Kitchen staff and dietitians have been reviewing food ingredients and analyzing recipes to determine calories, added sugar, protein and serving size information, among other details. Many of the options in the dining room are homemade and now have accurate counts of nutrients. The undertaking has been a significant, months-long project that is now complete. Look for the information next time you’re dining at Welia Health.