New Nutrition Label, New Tool for Cancer Prevention

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In the next couple of years, it may be easier to know whether your packaged food choice is a cancer fighter or an empty calorie bust.

Proposed Nutrition Facts Label
Proposed Nutrition Facts Label

The FDA unveiled their proposed Nutrition Facts Label and the emphasis is clearly on calories, added sugar and serving sizes. That’s important, because eating too many calories means weight gain, and consuming sugary drinks is strongly linked with weight gain, overweight and obesity.

And, 117,000 cases of cancer every year are caused by obesity in the U.S., so anything that shines a light on how much we are actually eating is a step in the right direction.

To be clear, many of the best cancer-fighting foods don’t have labels on them. Think tomatoes, carrots, apples, squash, blueberries, leafy greens and any fruit or vegetable in the produce section. But in many grocery aisles, you may need some help with choosing foods like soups, yogurt and cereals.

Here are 3 ways the new label will help you choose cancer fighters:

1.            Big, Bold Calories: It’s the first thing that you see –no confusion about how many calories you’re getting. You will need to know how to put calories in context, though. But if you know you’re aiming for about 1600 calories per day, for example, a snack that packs more than 200 calories may help you put that food back on the shelf.

Eat so that you can get to and stay a healthy weight – it is the most important thing you can do to lower cancer risk (after not smoking).

2.            Serving Size Reality: No more pretending that you’re getting 110 calories when you drink a 20-ounce soda or sugary beverage. The calories in the new label are based on what a person typically eats or drinks, not the recommended serving size. For sodas, that means the bottle you grab, whether it’s 8 ounces or 20, is considered a serving. Currently, the label of a 20-ounce sugary soda states the serving is 110 calories (for 8 ounces). The new label shows 275 calories.

Avoid sugary drinks. That’s one of AICR’s Recommendations for Cancer Prevention  because sugary beverages cause overweight and obesity.

3.            Added Sugars: Fruits, vegetables and most dairy products have some naturally occurring sugar. With the new label, you’ll see how much sugar has been added to yogurt, flavored milks, and canned and frozen vegetable and fruit dishes. Sugar adds calories without any nutritional value.

You can make every calorie count by choosing minimally processed foods – including plant foods like vegetables, grains and fruit with little or no added sugar.

What do you think of the proposed label?


Author: Alice RD

Alice G. Bender, MS, RDN, is the Director of Nutrition Programs at AICR. She helps put the science of cancer prevention into action by providing tips and tools to choose nutritious and delicious foods. Alice has guided thousands of individuals to healthier lives through diet changes and choices.

One thought on “New Nutrition Label, New Tool for Cancer Prevention”

  1. Having new more realistic portion sizes will benefit many people. I also look forward to a separate line for added sugar. I think I would benefit from knowing how much sugar was added.

    Nutrition labels will never be perfect but having as much info as possible would be appreciated by many.

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