The Fat in Food Labels BY
he fat content of food is an important consideration for elderly shoppers. The "Nutrition Facts" label on processed foods tells how much fat and other nutrients are found in a serving. It also shows the percent daily value for fat, cholesterol, sodium, carbohydrate, protein, vitamins A and C, calcium, and iron. The goal for older adults is to choose foods that provide no more than 100% of the daily value for fat, sodium, and cholesterol. They should look for low numbers for the daily values of these nutrients. The daily values for vitamins, minerals, and fiber should be considered minimums for healthy people; therefore the goal is to get at least 100% of the daily value. Elders should look for high numbers here, especially if the food is high in calories. If a food has 5% or less of a daily value, that food is low in that nutrient. A food with 20% or more of the daily value is considered to be "high in" or "an excellent source of" a nutrient. A food containing between 10% and 19% of a daily value for a nutrient is considered a "good" source. To simplify comparing one food with another, the daily value on labels is based on a 2000 calorie diet. Unless the difference is great between an elder's usual calorie intake and the 2000 kcal standard, the percent daily value on the label should be used as a guide. Elders can include a small plus or minus to the percent, depending on whether their usual intake is more or less than 2000 kcal. Daily values for vitamins, minerals, cholesterol, and sodium are not adjusted for Caloric intake because they are absolute amounts based on adult averages. Calculating the percent daily value to a specific calorie level is complicated, so elderly people may need to evaluate foods by using label information and a rough estimate of daily calorie consumption.
PEGGY K. YEN, RD, MPH, is a nutrition consultant with Cardiovascular Disease and Nutrition Services, Local and Family Health Administration, Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, in Baltimore. GERIATRNURS 1995;16:251-2. Copyright 9 1995 by Mosby-Year Book, Inc. 0197-4572/95/$5.00 + 0 34/1/67117
GERIATRIC NURSING Volume 16, Number 5
Nutrition Facts Serving Size1/2cup (114g) Servings Per Container 4
Calodesfrom Fat 30
Total Fat 3g Saturated Fat Og
%1==~ Vslu=* 5% 0%
Sodium 300rag Total Carbohydrate 13g DietaryFiber3g Segars 3g p.~,4n 3g vitamin A 80*/. Calcium 4*/,
13% 4% 1 2~
VitaminC 60*/. Iron 4%
Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000
FIGURE 1. Nutrition Facts label from a package of frozen peas in a sauce is filled with information especially important
to elders.The goal for older adults is to choose foods that provide no more than 100% of the daily value for fat, sodium, and cholesterol.
Fat B u d g e t i n g
Calculating a fat "budget" is an alternative method for looking at fat intake. For example, the fat budget for an 1800 calorie diet is 60 gm (or less) of fat a day.* Older adults can "spend" the 60 gm on the foods they eat in whatever way they wish. The label shown in Figure 1 from a package of frozen vegetables in sauce shows that there are 3 gm of fat in.a 1/2cup serving, along with 80% of the daily value for vitamin A and 60% of the daily value for vitamin C. Spending 5% of the fat budget (3 gm of fat is 5% of 60 gm) to get over 60% of the day's supply of two important nutrients is good shopping! * To calculate this fat budget: 1800 kcal daily diet X 30% (recommended percent calories from fat) = 540 kcal. Divide 540 kcal by 9 (number of kcal in 1 gm of fat), and you get a fat budget of 6 0 g m .
Don't Overdo It! Not every food will be an excellent source of several nutrients. What about a food. like a slice of high-fat birthday cake, that supplies 30 gm of fat (half the day's fat budget) and only minimal amounts of important nutri-
Sometimes overlooked in using labels to evaluate foods is attention to serving sizes ents? There is room for these foods if other foods are chosen wisely. Older adults can include high-fat or high-sodium foods occasionally as long as totals do not exceed the maximums over the course of several days. Sometimes overlooked in using labels to evaluate foods is attention to serving sizes and the fact that fresh foods are not labeled for nutrient content. The Nutri Facts Fresh Foods Labeling Program provides nutrition information for meat, poultry, seafood, fruits, and vegetabless Grocery stores voluntarily display nutrition posters and brochures in the meat and produce departments. If signif-
icant voluntary participation by stores is found to be lacking, the Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture may mandate fresh food labeling in the future, Serving sizes are now more consistent and realistic on food packages. Potato chips, pretzels, and snack crackers all list nutrient content for roughly equal serving sizes, so that valid comparisons may be made. Older adults must compare the serving they eat to the serving listed on the package for a meaningful assessment of nutrient content.
Is Fat that Important? Maintaining dietary fat intake at 30% of calories or less is a preventive measure for heart disease, which disproportionately affects older adults. Older people need fewer calories as they age. Because fat has twice the calories of carbohydrate or protein, foods with higher fat content need to contribute more nutrients or be balanced with lower fat foods that do. Using the "Nutrition Facts" label helps elderly people make good choices about the foods they eat. 9 For a simply-wordedlarge-print publication on food labels, contact: 1: 800-332-4010 and ask for publication 94-2276, "Using the New Food Labels to Choose Healthier Foods."
PLAN A H E A D ! If you would like to see your program listed in our calendar, please be sure to submit it at least 4 months in advance of the issue you intend it for. Send material to the editor: Priscilla Ebersole, RN, PhD, FAAN 2790 Rollingwood Drive San Bruno, CA 94066 There is no charge for listings in the Program Calendar.
September/October 1995 GERIATRICNURSING