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Nutritional Information on Food Labels: What it All Means

By spending a few additional minutes in the supermarket to read product la­bels, you can help ensure a nourishing, well-balanced diet for your youngster. The specific information provided on labels can vary, but by carefully reading the amounts of fat, cholesterol, sodium, vitamins, and minerals, and the per­centage of calories from fat, you will find that products on the store shelves differ greatly in their contents.

When reading this nutritional information, pay close attention to por­tion sizes, which can sometimes cause confusion. Also, keep in mind that because these listed portion sizes are arbitrary, they may not be equivalent to the portions actually consumed by your own family. When comparing different products, make sure the portion sizes on the labels are equal, or do some quick refiguring of your own.

The carbohydrate listing is a combination of fiber, sugars, and complex car­bohydrates; if the manufacturer made a claim about the fiber on the cereal package, the precise amount of fiber would have to be listed.

Individuals on a low-sodium diet should compare labels to find a cereal with a reduced amount of sodium. Also, while this label provides information for a serving with half a cup of no-fat (skim) milk, fat and cholesterol levels will be greater if low-fat or whole milk is used.

Last Updated
Adapted from Caring for your School-Age Child: Ages 5 to 12 (Copyright © 2004 American Academy of Pediatrics)
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.
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