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WASHINGTON -- The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN) in HHS's Food and Drug Administration have introduced two new learning tools designed to help consumers use the Nutrition Facts label to choose nutritious foods and achieve healthy weight management.
The tools are Make Your Calories Count, a Web-based learning program, and a new Nutrition Facts Label brochure.
"The risk of many diseases and health conditions may be reduced through preventive actions, and a culture of wellness deters or diminishes debilitating and costly health events," said Dr. John Agwunobi, HHS assistant secretary for health, in a statement. "Individual health care is built on a foundation of responsibility for personal wellness. We at HHS are pleased to introduce both the new Web-based program and the brochure, which contribute to the nutrition focus of the department's prevention priority."
GMA/FPA, the largest trade group representing the food, beverage, and consumer products industry, issued a supportive statement about the program from its s.v.p. of government affairs, Mary Sophos. "Secretary Leavitt and FDA are to be commended for their continued commitment to addressing the issue of obesity, and seeking ways to help consumers understand how they can balance their food choices in order to create healthful diets and for weight management," noted Sophos. "GMA/FPA and its member companies are committed to helping consumers understand how to use nutrition labeling on foods and beverages -- in concert with MyPyramid and the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans -- to help make food choices part of healthful diets and lifestyles."
The Web-based program is part of FDA's response to the recommendations of its Obesity Working Group in a 2004 report, "Calories Count." The program was based on recommendations in the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
"This learning program provides a quick and simple way to educate consumers on how to use the nutrition facts label," said Dr. Andrew C. von Eschenbach, acting FDA commissioner. "By making it easier for consumers to understand the Nutrition Facts label, the FDA is helping them make quick and informed food choices that contribute to lifelong healthy eating habits."
Make Your Calories Count is an interactive online learning program also available in a downloadable format. It's designed to help consumers understand and use the Nutrition Facts label to plan a healthy diet while managing calorie intake. The program guide features an animated character called "Labelman" who leads the viewer through a series of exercises on the food label. The program includes exercises to help consumers explore the relationship between serving size and calories, while they learn how to limit certain nutrients and get enough of others. For simplicity, the program presents two nutrients that should be limited (saturated fat and sodium) and two nutrients that should be consumed in adequate amounts (fiber and calcium).
The program is available for online use and in a downloadable format at www.cfsan.fda.gov/labelman.
FDA is also offeribg a new downloadable Nutrition Facts Label brochure targeting consumers. The brochure describes how consumers can use the Nutrition Facts label as they shop and plan meals. The brochure includes information that will help consumers understand the relationship between calories and serving size, which may help them use the label to manage their intake of calories. This brochure is available at http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/lab-gen.html.