Lose Weight By reading? How To Decode Food Nutrition Labels - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Lose Weight By reading? How To Decode Food Nutrition Labels

USATODAY.COM - Walking down the aisle can be nerve-wracking — especially when it's the grocery store aisle, says Bonnie Taub-Dix, a registered dietitian in private practice in New York City.

Her weight-loss clients often tell her they wish she would go food shopping with them to help them sort through all of the choices.

Sometimes making food decisions "feels like it requires being a mathematician, dietitian and librarian," says Taub-Dix, author of the new book Read It Before You Eat It: How to Decode Food Labels and Make the Healthiest Choice Every Time.

She advises clients to study products' nutrition-facts panel, which is loaded with helpful information. Many shoppers try to follow that advice, up to a point. Consumers say they are most likely to read the calories, sodium, fat and sugar content on the panel, a recent poll found.

"People read the nutrition-facts panel more often when they are looking at a food product for the first time," says Wendy Reinhardt Kapsak, a registered dietitian with the International Food Information Council Foundation, which sponsored the survey. "They use the panel to compare products more than they do to balance their overall daily diet."

She says some public health advocates are calling for changes to the panel to make it more user-friendly, including making the calorie information more prominent.

A study published recently in the Journal of the American Dietitic Associationfound that 61.6% of participants reported using the nutrition-facts panel and 47.2% read the serving size at least sometimes when deciding to purchase a food product.

The Food and Drug Administration is reviewing package labels, "including whether the listing of calories should be bigger and more prominent," says FDA spokeswoman Siobhan DeLancey. The agency also is looking at whether the serving sizes listed on packages still fit today's eating habits.

In the meantime, the current panel is useful for those who want to eat a more healthful diet, Taub-Dix says.

"I don't think people realize how many food decisions we make a day, and how little time we put into making them," she says. "We often spend more time thinking about what we put on our body — shopping for clothes and shoes — than what we put in our body when we go food shopping."

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