This lesson helps young people understand how using the Nutrition Facts label helps them make healthy food choices. They will practice reading food labels, looking for calories, ingredients, and daily value percent’s.
Understanding and using the Nutrition Facts label is an important step in helping young people fight obesity and prevent health problems later in life. By reading labels, young people will become more aware of what’s in the foods they eat. They will also get the information they need to make healthful food choices and establish good eating habits for life.
Show the youth the FDA’s “The Food Label & You” video. (Teacher to select entire video or any of the individual segments to show.)
Pass out two to three nutrition facts labels to each young person or group.
Ask the youth to take a few minutes to do the following:
Locate the Nutrition Facts label for your food item(s).
Find the Serving Size and Servings Per Container. Remember: all of the nutrition information on the label is based on one serving of the food. A package of food often has more than one serving!
Find the calories. They are the “fuel” our bodies need for our daily activities.
The calories listed are for one serving. Tell the youth that many people don’t even realize how many servings they are eating. Remind young people that for the most part calories are good.
Find the Total Fat grams (g) for one serving. Under Total Fat, find the grams (g) of Saturated Fat. The grams (g) of Saturated Fat are part of the Total Fat grams (g). To keep our hearts healthy, it is important that we are aware of how much Total Fat (especially fats that are not good for our hearts such as Saturated Fats and Trans Fats) we are eating. We want to eat less of these nutrients.
Find the % of daily value. The percent of daily value shows how the amount of a nutrient fits into a 2,000 calorie diet. Individual calorie needs will vary based on age, sex, size and activity level. The 5/20 rule says that if a food has 5% of daily value then it is low in that nutrient. If it has 20% of daily value then it is high in that nutrient. This can be good or bad depending if it is a nutrient that you want to have more of, such as calcium, iron, or less of, such as cholesterol or fat.
Ingredients: This shows the order of ingredients found in the food product from the most to least. This is where you will find if a food product is made from whole grains, has added sugars, and/or other ingredients that may have a positive or negative impact on your overall health.
Call on young people or groups and have them share their findings with the others.
Hand out the Healthy Families Newsletter in English or Spanish so that families can practice reading food labels and discuss good eating habits at home.