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FDA Proposed Changes to Nutrition Facts Label: But Is It Any Better?

By Alissa Rumsey RD, CDN, CNSC, CSCS

The Nutrition Facts label is getting a major overhaul for the first time since Congress mandated its inclusion on packaged foods in 1990. Half of Americans say they check the nutrition label on foods when they are shopping, however the majority of the label is often meaningless to them. Most people cannot relate grams of a nutrient or percentages of the daily value to the food that they are putting in their mouths.

In August 2014, the FDA released the proposed changes. Some of the changes will be helpful to consumers. The biggest changes:

  1. Serving sizes:
    1. Serving size requirement changed: The Nutrition Labeling and Education Act requires serving sizes to be based on amounts of food and drink that people typically eat, not on how much they should eat. People are eating more, so servings are getting larger – this will be reflected on the food labels. For example, the serving on a label for ice cream will now be 1 cup, instead of ½ a cup.
    2. Single serve labeling: Packaged foods and drinks that are typically consumed in one sitting will have their serving size changed to reflect the calorie and nutrient content for the whole package. For example, a 20-ounce bottle of soda would be labeled as one serving rather than more than one.
    3. Dual column: For certain packaged foods that are larger, the label will have to identify both “per serving” and “per package” calories and nutrient information. For example, a pint of ice cream, or a bag of chips. This way people will easily see how many calories they are getting if they eat or drink the whole package in one sitting.

My take: I’m not a fan of the serving size changes. Just because someone eats one cup of ice cream in a sitting, doesn’t meant that they should! This method of labeling doesn’t help to teach what a reasonable serving should be.

  1. Remove “Calories from fat”. Total Fat, Saturated Fat and Trans Fat are still required to be labeled.

My take: I am in agreement with this change. We know now that type of fat is more important than amount of fat. Hopefully by removing “calories from fat” we can better teach people that this doesn’t matter as much as the type of fat they are consuming.

  1. Include “Added sugars”. Added sugars are considered empty calories, as they don’t provide any beneficial nutrients. The FDA proposes adding this as a separate line in addition to total sugar. This will make it easier for a consumer to know how much sugar occurs naturally in the product versus how much was added to make it sweeter.

My take: This is a great addition – Americans have a really tough time deciphering the difference between natural and added sugars in products. This one is a bit harder to implement, as it will depend on what the FDA decides the definition of “added sugar” will be. For example, manufactures could decide to add fruit puree to sweeten something, which is in effect doing the same thing – adding sugar.

  1. Addition of Potassium and Vitamin D. Potassium has an important role in blood pressure regulation, and Vitamin D in bone health. These are two nutrients that many American’s don’t get enough of. Calcium and Iron will still be required on the label; Vitamins A and C could be included on a voluntary basis. The update also recommends that actual amounts of the micronutrients be listed instead of percent daily value.

My take: I love that they are going to be putting grams or milligrams instead of percent daily value, this makes the number much more meaningful to consumers.

  1. Increased Font Size. Calories and serving sizes will be emphasized in a larger font in order to address obesity and the high rates of diabetes and cardiovascular disease that go along with extra weight.

My take: Many people don’t pay attention to the serving size, and eat more servings (and therefore calories) than they realize. I like that these two items will be emphasized, as it is something that most Americans do need to be aware of.

Despite some positive changes, there are still a number of things the new nutrition label will not do:

  1. Measurements are still meaningless for most people. I’d love to see teaspoons of sugar in a serving, instead of grams. Fewer people might buy that fruit-flavored yogurt if they realized it contained 5 teaspoons of sugar.
  2. Percent daily value remains. While the footnote is apparently going to be updated to better describe what “%DV” means, I still find this measurement to be pretty useless. Majority of Americans need much less of much more than 2000 calories per day, in which case the percent daily value doesn’t do you much good.
  3. The ingredient list isn’t addressed. You can’t just judge a food by its nutrition facts. Many food companies try to get around the label by using not-so-great ingredients and then fortifying the product with vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Or calories are reduced by adding artificial sweeteners.
  4. No front-of-package labeling. Consumers still have no fast and easy way to distinguish nutritional value among similar products. Front of package labeling could help to highlight the good, bad or neutral value of a product.

No matter what happens with the labeling updates, it will be awhile coming. All the public comments will have to be reviewed, the final rules issued, and then the food industry will be giving time to implement them. In the meantime, I’ll continue to emphasize whole, real foods and cutting back on foods high in sugar, salt and added fat.

Alyssa Rumsey RDAlissa is a nationally recognized Registered Dietitian and Certified Strength and Conditioning Coach based in New York City. After working for six years with critically ill adults, she started Alissa Rumsey Nutrition & Wellness Consulting to help others improve their health and wellbeing, helping people create a positive, sustainable relationship with food and exercise. She works with companies to craft nutrition messages and curate effective online content and her expertise is regularly featured on television, online, and in print. Alissa earned dual Bachelor’s degrees in Dietetics and Exercise Science from the University of Delaware, and is completing a Master’s of Science degree in Health Communications from Boston University. In her spare time, Alissa can be found running in Central Park, traveling to far-off countries, and, as a self-proclaimed “foodie,” exploring the expansive New York City food and restaurant scene.

 

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Who do you want to appreciate this National Nutrition Month?

National Nutrition Month is a great time to promote good nutrition to clients and patients! But, it’s also a great time to say Thank You to your co-workers, clientspatients and doctors who work hard to make the world a healthier place.

Save yourself a trip to the store and order a trendy, healthy snack-packed gift box for everyone you want to say Thank You to!

Dietitian Gift Boxes

The inside of each box is personalized with a message to fit the recipient!
To see the individualized messages, please click here.

Bulk Box Order

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FNCE Recap: A Dietitians Rundown on the Best of FNCE 2014

I just returned from the 2014 annual Food & Nutrition Conference and Expo (FNCE) in Atlanta and I don’t know about you but I am energized!  Most people return home from this conference exhausted, but I tend to return home each year energized.  I love all the great people I met, the knowledge gained from the sessions I attended and all the new and fascinating products in the Expo hall.

Logo_FNCE

One of my favorite sessions this year was on branding, titled “Creating Fame: The Power of Branding to Elevate Your Career” presented by Yvette Quantz and Thomas Karam and moderated by Sarah Koszyk. This session was well presented and provided many take away points that I will be incorporating into my professional toolkit. The presentation focused on how to brand yourself as a dietitian, no matter the focus of your practice. The also demonstrated how two simple things, “vocal tone” and your “default look”, can determine whether someone will like/trust you within the first 10 seconds of meeting you.  This was excellent information to be reminded of since we, as dietitians, deal with patients, clients, vendors and many other groups of people on a daily basis. The session served as a great reminder of the importance of focusing on making a positive first impression.  Because we interact with so many new people on a daily basis, the first impression is key to our success. If we fail to impress, it lessens the impact of the rest of our message.

Another favorite for me this year was the expo hall. Come one, who doesn’t like a place where great food vendors and sponsors showcase their products.  This year, I especially enjoyed learning about the new natural food products on the market, and the trend of decreasing processed ingredients and additives that are currently in so many of our foods. This is a trend that dietitians have been focusing on for quite some time. It’s great to see it becoming a more mainstream trend.  While I believe there is room in a person’s diet for most foods, I also believe it is important to get back to the basics.  Because of this, it was nice see so many companies working with dietitians to produce a healthier product for consumers to choose.

For those who were able to attend the 2014 FNCE conference, I would love to hear about your favorite session(s), as well as your favorite part of the expo.  For those of you who were unable to go this year, I look forward to connecting next year in Nashville.  Finally, for those who are questioning whether it is worth it to attend FNCE in the future, I would definitely recommend it. Although it is a long weekend, I think you will be surprised at how you leave feeling more energized and excited about the future of our profession.

Talk to you soon!

Carrie

Carrie Mark NCES

 

 

 

 

Carrie Mark, MA, RD, LD

Chief Acquisitions Director

NCES, Inc.

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Witness the Evolution of a Nutrition Education Handout

Since the 1980’s, NCES has been creating leading nutrition education products. But, do you know how it all started? I’m sure many of you do because you’ve been right here with us through the entire journey. But, for others, we’re excited to take this opportunity to share with you the evolution of our flagship product, now titled the “Healthy START” series of handouts.

It all started back in the 80’s with the extremely ‘cool cat’, Nutri-Cat! Nutri-Cat had a great job. He was responsible for encouraging people of all ages to eat healthy and exercise, similar to the way a team mascot would cheer on his team. The first handouts, featuring Nutri-Cat, utilized the food pyramid that had carbs at the bottom and fats and oils at the top.

This handout was able to hold on strong for many, many years. However, in 2005, it was time for an update. Based on new research and standards, the USDA updated their base food pyramid to a side-by-side food pyramid with steps moving up the side. At this time, we decided that Nutri-Cat had done his job as we retired him from the series of handouts. We also added more information on exercise as nutrition standards were putting a larger emphasis on exercise as part of a healthy lifestyle.

In 2011, we introduced the Healthy START handouts you know and love today! In response to the USDA’s updated 2010 Dietary Guidelines and the introduction of MyPlate to replace MyPyramid, we went back to the drawing board and crafted an entirely new educational handout to fit the needs of our health and nutrition education customers. We also thought it was important to provide an acronym that would help readers live a healthy lifestyle, which is where the START concept was born. This simple acronym provides everyday instructions to help reader’s jumpSTART their healthy lifestyle. Coming up with the components of the START concept were easy too. The USDA had just released five topics they intended to emphasize over the next five years. These became the pillars of our START concept.

And that’s how a star is born! These Healthy START handouts continue to be one of our best selling products here at NCES. For almost 30 years, these handouts have brought nutrition education to the masses. With solid information reflecting the most up-to-date research and science behind health, wellness and fitness, these handouts are a great fit in every nutrition education setting. To learn more or place your order today, visit NCEScatalog.com. You can also always contact us. Our on-staff dietitian is here to answer your questions! Before you go, take a second to connect with us on Facebook and Twitter, and sign up for our newsletter!

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Feedback Wanted: What’s hot in Diabetes Education?

Diabetes… it’s been around forever! Well, maybe not forever. But, it’s definitely been around for a long time. And, the bigger issue is that it’s becoming more and more of a problem as time goes on. Almost 2 million new cases of Type II Diabetes are diagnosed each year. Despite our best efforts as a health and nutrition education community, these numbers continue to rise, meaning that more people are dying from this disease each year than the previous year.

There are many misconceptions about Type II diabetes. Many people think they can ‘cure’ their Type II diabetes by simply removing sugar from their diet. Although this isn’t a bad idea, it’s not a cure for this incredibly dangerous disease. Or, on the other spectrum, many think that once they’ve been diagnosed, there is no going back. They are unaware that, after being diagnosed with Type II diabetes, simple lifestyle changes can reverse the effects of diabetes on their body. Clearing up these misconceptions is an important job of the diabetes educator.

The basics of diabetes education are commonly known in the nutrition community. Carb counting, Exchanges, Portion sizes. If you’re a diabetes educator yourself, I’m sure you can recite many of these words, plus many others, in your sleep without any thought because you’ve taught so many classes, given multiple presentations and counseled countless individuals on the topic of reversing Type II diabetes. Through the years, the disease has stayed the same. But, the educational tools have evolved. Or have they?

We’ve been noticing that many of the tools used to teach diabetes aren’t evolving with our obese population. So, we want to know. How are you teaching diabetes education? What tools do you think are most useful when you’re working with a patient whose recently been diagnosed with Type II diabetes? What information do you find is most effective in getting through to your patients the importance of making lifestyle changes to save their lives? And, most importantly, what’s missing in the field of diabetes education?

As we begin preparation for the Fall 2013 NCES catalog, we want your feedback! You’re in the field every day working with patients to help save lives, what do you feel is missing? This is your opportunity to make sure that a product that could make your diabetes education program more effective or easier to teach is included in our next catalog.

So, whether you prefer to leave your comments here on the blog, share them over on Facebook or Twitter, or even email them directly to us at info@ncescatalog.com. We hope you’ll consider offering your feedback so we can continue to fill the catalog with the best in nutrition education teaching aids, handouts, presentations and more!

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$3.49 Melamine Portion Plates

Our loss is your gain! Due to a printing complication, we received a batch of 2000 portion plates that have slight printing flaws. Please see the image below to decide if these plates would be a perfect fit for your health fair, nutrition event or even great giveaways to your clients or employees! If so, act fast because these plates won’t last long at $3.49 each.

Portion Plate

Contact Us Today

Phone: 877.623.7266

Email: orders@ncescatalog.com

or Click Here to let us know you’re interested