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Thursday, February 21, 2013

Understanding nutritional information


This article published by the FDA explains how to understand and interpret the nutrition facts label.

My simplified version of how to interpret nutrition facts is listed below:
  • Look at the Calorie content.
  • Determine whether you are planning to eat the whole jar or just a serving. If you plan on eating the whole jar, multiply the serving size by the calorie per serving to get the total number of calories.  Most people forget to do this math and the calories add up!
  • Now look at the total fat, cholesterol, and sodium: All these need to be low.
  • Now,  look at vitamins, minerals, and calcium: All these need to be high.
  • The footnote at the bottom tells us the recommended daily intake for the key nutrients. Comparing where the jar is in relation to the daily intake is no easy task. 
In summary, there is a lot of information synthesis that one has to perform during grocery shopping. If you are like me and want to get out of the grocery store as fast as possible, parsing through nutritional facts will be inconvenient.

What are some areas that need to be changed to make interpretation of nutritional information more efficient? 
  • Make it easy (or apparent) to do the math (total calorie computation).
  • Use color or symbols to give the correct big picture – is the product good for your health?
  • Make it easy to determine what key nutrients the food provides in relation to the total recommended intake for a day.
  • Make it easy to determine what nutrients are lacking.
  • Make it easy to determine the key ingredients. Culprits such as high fructose corn syrup and monosodium glutamate should be emphasized so that the consumer can make an informed decision.

 I bet the manufacturers are not going to like any of my design suggestions. 

This website has a lot of very interesting design concepts. I suppose someone thought about this before me.


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