Does Reading Nutrition Labels Improve Health?


by The Health Sciences Academy — Get free science updates here.


Have you ever looked at a nutrition label and felt unsure of what you were looking at?

If so, you’re not the only one.

Maybe you were confused by the terminology (“what does ‘of which saturates’ mean?”) or maybe the amount you’re eating per portion (“how many calories does the slice I cut contain”?).

In this first part of our InstaHealth series, we are going to start answering your burning questions about nutrition labels… before you even need to ask!

So, let’s start with an important question:

Why do food labels exist?

Well, they give us consumers the ability to judge the nutritional value of the food before purchasing it.

Without them, we’d have no idea what we’re really consuming!

Most people are concerned about their weight, so the first thing they look for on food labels is the amount of calories contained within.

Can you spot the word “calories” in the nutritional label above?

Not straightforward, right?

“Calories” is nowhere to be seen.

In the UK, calories are instead listed as “Energy”. And calories, as we understand them, are written as kcal (1 calorie = 1 kcal).

But food labels don’t just tell us about the calories contained in foods.

They also give us other information, such as macronutrient content.

What are macronutrients?

Macronutrients are the fuel that we need daily, to support our body´s functions by supplying us with energy.

The three macronutrients are:

    • Carbohydrates
    • Proteins
    • Fats

You can see where each of these macronutrients are located in the US food label on the right (we circled them for you).

“People who can read and understand nutrition labels, tend to choose healthier options, which can equate to increased wellbeing.”

Labels Abroad

Have you ever been abroad, walked into a store, and thought “this looks different…”?

Well, it’s not just the store that’s different. Nutrition labels are different in different parts of the world!

For example, if you were in the UK and looked at a label, it might be something like this:

While in the US, it could look like this:

And in China it may be something like this:

Can you spot some of the similarities between the three labels?

If not, don’t worry. We’ve circled some of them for you, down below.

Regardless of the country of origin, the food labels include the 3 macronutrients: fat, carbohydrate, and protein.

What about the biggest difference between the three labels?

Here’s a hint:

In the UK and in China, food labels use the word energy, whereas the US label simply states “calories”.

Another difference is that the Chinese label only shows the energy in food as calories (kcal). Whereas the UK one not only shows energy in calories (kcal), but also in Kilojoules (kJ).

In upcoming posts, we’ll explore macronutrients and calories in more detail.

But for now, think about this… Why do we eat? What causes you to make the food choices that you do? Curious for the answers? Find out here.

Related Trainings:
Nutritional Genetics and Epigenetics
Craving Control and Taste Manipulation
Influences on Food Choices

Did you enjoy this? Sign up to receive our FREE email updates!

See Also

Continuing Education Bundle

Free Academic Tour

Exclusive Webinar

[CPD Certified Webinar] Dr Michael Mosley on Intermittent Fasting and Rapid Weight Loss

  • What weight-gain statistics during the pandemic are telling us
  • Utility of knowing a client’s metabolic age – and how to calculate it
  • Evaluating the pros and cons of ‘rapid’ weight loss
  • The safe (and the dangerous) ways of losing weight rapidly
  • How caloric restriction and intermittent fasting influence metabolic health
  • Latest research on 800-calorie diets and intermittent fasting
  • Impact of rapid weight loss on long-term weight maintenance
  • Advantages of having the support of a nutrition professional throughout the process

Register Now

© Copyright

Everything on this site is original content, created and owned by or through The Health Sciences Academy ® or licensed accordingly.

The Health Sciences Academy is the world’s largest, 100% science-based, online educational institution.


✔ helping health professionals build their expertise in specialised areas             ✔ raising industry standards through personalised nutrition and practical science.
© Copyright The Health Sciences Academy. The content, graphs and charts on this page have been exclusively prepared for The Health Sciences Academy and its prospect students, existing students and graduates. None of the content on this page and website may be reproduced, copied or altered without our explicit permission. Criminal and legal penalties for copyright and other infringement apply. All Terms and Conditions apply.

Discover

Free Courses

Resources

Connect

About Us

© 2021 The Health Sciences Academy ® All Rights Reserved.

Client certifications

"My certifications with The Health Sciences Academy have taught me to use and understand many scientific methods and they are invaluable when it comes to implementing what I have learned into my business. I got clearer on the direction of my company. I wouldn’t be where I am now without them!"
Christopher Barker
Founder of The Lifestyle Clinic
"I've started a business based on helping people create the healhiest, most able-to-thrive babies possible with the building blocks being my learnings with The Health Sciences Academy. I'm just so thankful for the education and for the amazing team that helped me! For me it's been life-changing."
Rochelle Serna
Founder of The Non Tox Shop

Resources

Gain The Clarity You Need About Your Next Professional Steps by Taking a Career Strategy Assessment and Get FREE Access to The First Lessons of 14 Professional Certifications!
Send this to a friend