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How the New Nutrition Fact Labels Could Cause You to Gain Weight

Tim Boyer's picture
FDA reveals new food label changes

By July of 2018, major food manufacturers are required to change their Nutrition Facts labels on their packaged goods. Here are some sugar facts and serving size info that you need to know for weight loss―or risk gaining even more weight.


According to news from the FDA, major food manufacturers will have to comply by July of 2018 on how their Nutrition Fact labels are designed and how they report the nutritional value of their packaged contents. The purpose of the new labeling is to make it easier for consumers to make better informed food choices.

The most striking change consumers will notice is that of increased font size and bolding font for “calories,” “servings per container,” and the “serving size” declarations to help consumers identify important nutritional facts for controlling their caloric intake.

New Label Fact: Added Sugar Calories

Added sugars are one reason why so many Americans are overweight or obese. As such, it is crucial to stay within calorie limits to prevent weight gain.

According to the FDA, experts determined that if you consume more than 10 percent of your total daily calories from added sugars, staying within a recommended calorie count that includes enough dietary fiber and essential vitamins and minerals for a maintaining a healthy body is very difficult.

On average, Americans get about 13 percent of their total calories from added sugar in soft drinks, fruit drinks, coffee and tea, sport and energy drinks, alcoholic beverages, snacks and sweet, dairy desserts, candies, sugars, jams, syrups, and sweet toppings.

However, this does not mean that sugar cannot be part of a healthy diet. It only means that an excess of sugar cannot be part of a healthy diet.

To help consumers recognize how much sugar they are actually consuming, the new Nutrition Fact labels are required to state an “Includes X g Added Sugars” to be included under the “Total Sugars” to help consumers understand how much sugar has been added to the product.

So what is an “added sugar”? The FDA states that added sugars include:

• sugars that are either added during the processing of foods, or are packaged as such, and include sugars (free, mono- and disaccharides).

• sugars from syrups and honey.

• sugars from concentrated fruit or vegetable juices that are in excess of what would be expected from the same volume of 100 percent fruit or vegetable juice of the same type. Fruit or vegetable juice concentrated from 100 percent fruit juice that is sold to consumers (e.g. frozen 100 percent fruit juice concentrate) is an exception to this, as well as some sugars found in fruit and vegetable juices, jellies, jams, preserves, and fruit spreads.

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In other words, while an idea of just how much sugar is being consumed is more easily counted, the calorie conscious consumer will still have to be wary of some food products included in the above listed exceptions that could easily add-on unwanted sugar calories.

New Label Fact: Larger Serving Size

While the added sugars labeling is helpful, there’s a kicker that many may not realize—serving sizes for many foods will get bigger. What most consumers do not know is that serving size is not a recommendation of how much it is okay to consume of any one food product. According to the FDA:

“By law, serving sizes must be based on amounts of foods and beverages that people are actually eating, not what they should be eating. How much people eat and drink has changed since the previous serving size requirements were published in 1993. For example, the reference amount used to set a serving of ice cream was previously ½ cup but is changing to ⅔ cup. The reference amount used to set a serving of soda is changing from 8 ounces to 12 ounces.”

Furthermore, the FDA also points out that:

“Package size affects what people eat. So for packages that are between one and two servings, such as a 20 ounce soda or a 15-ounce can of soup, the calories and other nutrients will be required to be labeled as one serving because people typically consume it in one sitting.”

So, if a person mistakenly follows “serving size” as a recommendation of how much they should eat, the new labeling which will increase the serving size of most foods, will then lead to consuming even more calories for some unaware consumers.

The FDA notes that for food products that are in relatively large quantities such as a 24-ounce bottle of soda or a pint of ice cream, that the recommended labeling would be to provide “dual column” labels to indicate the amount of calories and nutrients on both a “per serving” and “per package”/“per unit” basis, with the expectation that consumers will be able to easily understand how many calories and nutrients they are getting if they were to eat or drink an entire package/unit at one sitting.

For now, the labeling changes appear to be helpful and may actually help many consumers make smarter calorie-based choices on what they buy and how much of it they should eat at one sitting. However, it’s still up to each and every one of us to be mindful and vigilant about what we are putting into our bodies that may be putting on the pounds.

For some informative advice on how to count calories, here are two informative articles to make counting calories simpler:

Calculate Your Calorie Counting with this Free Calorie Counting Plan for Weight Loss

Doing Mental Math Cuts Calories

Reference: FDA.gov “Changes to the Nutrition Facts Label

Image sourced from FDA.gov