Serving sizes add up

Many snack foods and drinks that appear to be packaged in single-serving containers list two are more servings on the nutrition facts label.

According to Lisa F. Harper Malonee, BSDH, MPH, RD, LD, a registered dietitian and associate professor at Texas A&M Health Science Center Baylor College of Dentistry, people who believe they are eating snacks and treats in moderation could be consuming more sugar, fat and calories than they realize.

“For instance, a 20-ounce soft drink has two and a half servings. Most individuals consume all of this beverage,” said Malonee. “However, the label states that there are two and a half servings in that bottle. Rather than consuming 100 calories, an individual consumes 250 calories.”

This example is similar to my own early experiences reading nutrition facts labels, which usually came as an after thought — after I was finished eating and had consumed much more than I would’ve had I read the label first. I learned never to trust my eyes.

“But the problem isn’t just that people don’t understand labels,” said Malonee. “The bigger problem is that many people don’t read labels at all.”

To avoid exceeding your daily limits for fats, sugar, sodium and calories, pay close attention to serving size and number of servings listed on the nutrition facts label, which is required by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Reading and using information found on the label is an important tool for maintaining a heart-healthy diet. For more information about the nutrition facts label on packaged foods, visit the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Web site.

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