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Understanding the New Nutrition Facts Label

The nutrition label you are used to seeing is more than 20 years old - so it is certainly time for an update! In an effort to give consumers the information they need to make more informed decisions on the food they purchase and consume, the FDA has decided to update the current label.  While the “iconic” look of the label will remain the same, the update includes a refreshed design to give consumers more realistic and health-focused information. 

At Duke Diet and Fitness center, we explore the food label through a virtual grocery store tour in order to help clients understand how to read and interpret food labels and why there are different label styles in the market place right now. Christine Tenekjian, Registered Dietitian at DFC, emphasizes the importance of prioritizing the most important information on the label in order to make an informed and conscious decision to purchase (or not to purchase) a food item. 

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Highlights of the changes:


Source: FDA.gov


  1. Servings and Serving Sizes are now in larger and bolder fonts 
    When selecting a food item, you may decide how much to eat or compare two items based on the serving size. With the update, you can now see this information more clearly and also have a more realistic value for the standard serving. Remember, serving sizes are not the recommended amount to eat. They are derived from the amount we typically eat and determine the rest of the information on the label. If you eat more than one “serving”, you have to multiply the rest of the values to calculate how much you have consumed. 
  2. Calories are also in larger and bolder fonts
    The calories in a food item are also something you should prioritize when making a decision to purchase or consume a certain food, especially if you are watching your weight. With the new label, the number of calories in each serving will be bigger and bolder to make it easier to find and see. Most clients at Duke DFC would eat between 1,000-1,700 calories per day for weight loss. It is helpful to consult with a Registered Dietitian to learn more about your individual calorie goals.
  3. “Calories from Fat” has been removed
    Research now suggests that the type of fat (versus the “calories from fat”) is more important for health benefits. This aligns well with our program here at Duke, where we often encourage our clients to eat more healthy fats for better satiety while losing weight. The label continues to break down the type of fats (saturated and trans fat) but removed the listing of the total calories from fat. You can find more information about types of fats here.
  4. The total amount of "Added Sugars” has been added
    Added sugars can be a part of a healthy diet, but if consumed in excess can lead to negative health consequences such as weight gain, increased risk of heart disease, and diabetes. Expert groups such as the American Heart Association and the World Health Organization agree to recommend decreasing added sugar intake. In addition, dietary guidelines suggest aiming for 10% or less of total calories from added sugars. Added sugars are defined as either added during the processing of food, or are packaged (i.e. a bag of table sugar), and also includes sugars from syrups and honey and sugars from concentrated fruit or vegetable juices. For more information on added sugars click here.
  5. Altered nutrients listed
    The daily values of Vitamin A and Vitamin C are no longer going to be reported on the label. Today, deficiencies in these nutrients are rare, thus no longer needed to be tracked. However, Vitamin D and Potassium are being added to the % daily value (%DV) as it’s been identified that Americans don’t always get enough of these nutrients. Vitamin D is important for bone health and Potassium helps lower blood pressure. Aim to get more of these nutrients by choosing fatty fish, egg yolks, sweet potatoes, and beans. 

    The footnote at the bottom of the label has changed to better explain the meaning of % Daily Value (%DV). The %DV helps you understand the nutrition information in the context of a total daily diet. Remember, the %DV is meant for the general population and based on a 2,000 calorie diet. So the percentages listed are not exact amounts based on your individualized calorie intake.


When can you plan to see the new changes? Many manufacturers have already begun implementing the new look. The official guidelines state that “Manufacturers with $10 million or more in annual sales must switch to the new label by January 1, 2020; manufacturers with less than $10 million in annual food sales have until January 1, 2021 to comply.” In addition, don’t forget that raw fruits, vegetables, fish, and some small business products are exempt from the requirement to provide nutrition facts so those items will likely be missing this information.

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With more than 40-year years of experience in delivering wellness and weight loss programs, the Duke Diet and Fitness Center has established itself as one of the leading weight loss and total body health destinations for health conscious individuals seeking a residential style health program focused on natural weight loss.

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