Diabetes Management And The Revised Nutrition Labels

By July 26, 2018, most food manufacturers must comply with the FDA's revised Nutrition Facts food label guidelines (small manufacturers get an extra year).

The label changes reflect updated health and nutrition information, and are intended to make it easier for consumers to make informed food choices.

For those with diabetes the label updates will provide clarity around calories and serving sizes, make it easier to avoid excess sugar, and to get plenty of the vital nutrients potassium, and vitamin D.

On the revamped Nutrition Facts label you will find:

  • Some important values are easier to find, even without the aid of reading glasses. The type size for “calories, “servings per container,” and “serving size” will be larger, plus the calories and serving size will be in bold face.
  • Serving size is updated to reflect the way people actually eat. A single serving of ice cream, for instance, has been increased from 1/2 cup to 2/3 cup; a single serving of soda will be 12 ounces on the new label, instead of the current 8 ounces. Yogurt serving size will decrease from 8 to 6 ounces.
  • Packages containing foods that might be consumed either in one, or in multiple sittings will have two columns for calories and nutrients. One column will be for “per serving” values, and the second for “per package” values. Items typically consumed in one sitting will be labeled as one serving.
  • Numbers for vitamins A and C are no longer required on nutrition labels since deficiencies in these nutrients are now rare. Calcium and iron amounts are still mandatory.
  • Vitamin D and potassium values are now required on food labels because many of us don’t get enough of them. Potassium is essential for cardiovascular health, and a lack of vitamin D is associated with increased risk of chronic disease, including metabolic syndrome, and diabetes.
  • Research indicates it’s difficult for people to get adequate nutrition within healthy calorie limits if more than 10 percent of daily calories come from added sugar (sugar manufacturers add to food products). So, the new labels will list the grams of added sugar under “Total Sugars.”
  • “Calories from fat” will not be on the new food labels since the type of fat we consume is more significant than how much is consumed. Total fat, saturated fat, and trans fat content is still required.

The new label will also have a more clear, or at least a less fuzzy definition of what “percent Daily Value” means. A footnote on the label will read, “The % Daily Value tells you how much a nutrient in a serving of food contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.”

For more than 20 years, Americans have relied on the Nutrition Facts label...to help them understand more about the foods they eat in a day. The updated label makes improvements to this valuable resource so consumers can make more informed food choices—one of the most important steps a person can take to reduce the risk of heart disease and obesity. ~ Robert Califf, M.D., FDA Commissioner

Sources: FDA/Labeling Nutrition; FDA/Press Release; Mercola
Photo credit: US Dept of Agriculture

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