Have you ever seen the Nutrition Facts label on the side of a box or can of food? Learn what it means and why it’s an important tool for eating right and fighting hunger.
We all know that humans need food in order to survive. Our bodies convert food into energy so that we can run, dance, breath, grow taller and fuel the body’s everyday processes that keep us alive. The energy we get from food is measured in calories.
How many calories do people need to survive? Well, it depends on a number of factors, including gender, age, and activity level. According to the Mayo Clinic, girls between the ages of 14-18 need between 1800 and 2400 calories per day. Boys in the same age range need between 2200 and 3200 daily.
Calories aren’t the only reason we eat food. Our bodies also need certain amounts of nutrients – fats, carbohydrates, protein, and vitamins and minerals – to help us stay healthy and strong. Many people around the world are able to get enough calories to eat, but are not getting enough of a particular nutrient. This creates a problem called malnutrition or “hidden hunger.” People suffering from malnutrition are more susceptible to a whole host of health problems and have shorter lives than healthy people.
So what does all this have to do with the food label? The Food & Drug Administration requires that all food products include a Nutrition Facts label that lists all the information that people need to make healthy choices. Learning to read the Nutrition Facts label is essential to making sure you are getting the right amount of calories and nutrients that your body needs.
Take some of the foods that are in your house and practice reading the labels. Make sure to look at the serving size – you’ll be surprised by what you find! For example, a 20 oz. bottle of soda may actually contain 2-3 servings, meaning you’d need to double or triple the numbers on the label in order to know how many calories you’re consuming!
Click here to download the FDA’s guide on how to read the Nutrition Facts label.
When you feel like you have a good understanding of how to interpret the label, click the button to your right to claim your points.