Size matters: Taking a closer look at nutrition labels, what serving sizes really mean

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MILWAUKEE -- Serving sizes aren't what they used to be  -- at least if you're looking at food labels. They've recently changed to help us all make more informed decisions about what we are eating and drinking. Jenny Crouse, a registered dietitian with Children's Hospital of Wisconsin, joins Real Milwaukee to talk about nutrition labels.

1. Ice cream: traditionally, a serving size was one quarter of a cup, and there were four servings per one pint of ice cream. We know that, rarely does someone limit their serving to a quarter of a cup. It`s not realistic. So, the NEW serving size is one third of a cup with three servings per pint container; with the calories increased to reflect that.

2. Soda and soft drinks: we know that packaging size affects how people eat and drink. In the case of soda, a 12-oz bottle packaging listed that as one serving. A 20-oz bottle was listed as two servings. In reality, we know that people drink a full 20-oz bottle of soda without thinking about it. So, the NEW labeling lists both the 12 and 20-oz bottles as one serving, but changes the calories to reflect that change.Note that serving size is intended to reflect the amount that people TYPICALLY eat, not what they SHOULD eat. It is hoped that by making serving sizes more realistic, people will have more accurate information to make decisions about food and calorie intake.

Dual-column labels: certain packages that are larger and can be consumed in one sitting or multiple sittings provide a 'dual column' label to indicate both 'per serving' and 'per package' calories and nutritional information.

Other food labeling changes:
There are many, but here are a few important highlights to note the next time you read a food label:

  • Servings per container and serving size are now in larger and bolder type.
  • Calories are now in a larger, bolder type. Calories are the unit that tells you how much energy a food gives the body.
  • Added sugars are now required on the label. These include sugars that are either added during the processing of foods, or are packaged as such (e.g., a bag of table sugar), and also include sugars from syrups, honey, fruit, vegetables and juices. The goal is to aim for less than 10% of your total daily calories from added sugars.
  • Vitamin D and potassium are also required on the label because many Americans do not get the recommended amounts.

 

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