Just The Facts

By Kristen M. Hoefel

CLOV Executive Assistant

We have all become accustomed to those little black and white labels on the back of food products, but who actually knows the correct way to read them? With all the information provided how is the average person supposed to know what they should be looking at and how it relates to them specifically? In honor of March – nutrition month – we would like to take the time to shed some light on these labels that have become common place in our lives. In some cases, even so common that they are overlooked or dismissed.

The first part of a nutrition label you should look at is the Serving Size. Although this may seem obvious to some people companies can get a little creative with this fact. When buying a 20oz bottle of soda most people would plan to drink the entire bottle in one sitting. Considering that it should be common sense for a 20oz bottle of soda to be one serving, looking at the nutrition facts may not prevent you from buying the soda based on your dietary needs. However, take a look at the servings per container, notice anything there? A 20oz bottle of soda contains 2.5 servings! All the information on the label needs to be multiplied by the 2.5 recommended serving size to be considered accurate.
This is true of many other types of food and drinks. Next time you’re looking at a nutrition label, take a look at the serving size. Buying a bag of chips? The company suggests a serving size to be 6 chips, you could be eating 5 servings before you know it!

The second most commonly misunderstood portion of a nutrition label are the % Daily Values. I remember when I was younger, I would look at the labels while eating my bowl of cereal and think it was cool that I was getting 15% of my sugar intake for the day. However, these daily values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. We’ve all heard the saying “everyone is different”, well in this case it does make a difference. Depending on your body type, age, and weight, we all have varying recommended caloric intakes. So while these percentages make a nice, quick reference point you need to keep in mind what your specific needs are.

Still confused on what product is healthier than another? Here’s a quick test: go down to the “Ingredients” section and read them aloud. If you struggle over the names of more than one ingredient it’s a good idea not to buy that product. My mother taught me that when I was young and when I’m in a rush, it is a quick way to know if I should purchase something or opt for something healthier.

While looking around online I stumbled across the following video. He makes a point of the serving sizes in a comical way and it got me to chuckle a handful of times. If you have a minute I highly suggest checking this out:

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