How calorie information on food labels benefits Americans


A nutrition label on a pack of candy

Megan Onofrei, Club Writer

Have you ever wondered why there is so much information on food labels and what the information actually means? Food labels provide accurate nutritional information, such as calorie counts, so it is easier for people to make healthier choices about the food that they are consuming.

Calories are the “fuel” for our bodies; providing the energy needed to function in a healthy and efficient manner. People across the world tend to poorly estimate their calorie intake which typically results in individuals consuming more calories than they planned. This contributes to significant health problems in the United States and across the world such as obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes. The United States continues to see an increase in obesity among our young children and adolescents.

Fortunately, nutritional labels in the United States provide information such as the calorie count and the amount of a certain nutritional substance (such as protein, fat, or carbohydrates) in our food products. In Europe, nutritional information is provided in grams, whereas in the United States, nutritional information is provided in serving sizes. It is much more beneficial for this information to be given in serving sizes because it is easier for the American public to calculate their calorie intake based on the portion of food that they are consuming.

Unique to the United States, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) is in charge of the labels that are on American food products. The FDA labels contain information for each food product such as calories, fats, cholesterol, sodium, total carbohydrates, proteins and certain vitamins and minerals.

There are many easy tools online or in the form of phone apps that the US public can use to track their daily calorie intake. “My Fitness Pal” is one of the easiest and most popular phone apps to use. It was rated #1 by Consumer Reports as the best Health and Fitness app for the past four years. Ongoing education of the public regarding the importance of using these food labels can assist Americans in making healthier choices and can ultimately decrease our rate of obesity in all ages.