Tween Label Reading

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The Food and Drug Administration has a new educational program to help kids read the nutrition facts panel so they can be more involved in making better food choices.

We thought this to be a very good basic plan for food label reading that can be used for kids and for adults.

Information on this program, with links is found here:

The Tween Program theme is called “Spot the Block - Get your food facts first.” It is based on the Nutrition Facts Label which is nicknamed The Block. The goals of Spot the Block are to urge tweens to look for the Nutrition Facts Label on the food package before making food choices.

Here are their key messages:

1) Consider the serving size - one package doesn’t mean one serving

2) How are the calories? 40 is low, 100 is moderate and 400 is high.

3. Look at the nutrients - 5% of the daily value is low; 20% of the daily value is high.

Get LESS trans fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium and sugars.

Get MORE potassium, fiber, vitamins A&C, iron and calcium

Here are our favorite food label lessons:

• OREO SANDWICH COOKIES GOLDEN MINI SNAK-SAKS - These resealable bags look like they could be one big cookie snack bag. But in reality they are 8 servings at about 240 calories per serving. Bring in one of these bags and hold it up and ask participants if they can guess how many servings and how many calories are in this bag!!! The answer is 1920 total calories or over a day’s supply of calories for most adults. FMI see

• ARIZONA APPLE GREEN TEA - Everyone hears that apples and green tea are good for you. However, many bottles of tea are more than one serving. A 23.5 ounce can is almost 3 8-ounce servings. Note that the Nutrition Facts given on the can is for 8 ounces. So, instead of drinking one bottle and getting just 70 calories, if you drink the whole bottle you get more than 200 calories!! FMI see

• CAMPBELL’S CHICKEN CORN CHOWDER - Canned foods are a great source of sodium in the diet. Everyone would tend to think that chicken and corn are healthy and soup is good food, right? Well, the Nutrition Facts panel tells a different story. Each 1 cup serving is 190 calories, 9 g fat and 850 mg of sodium. That is more than third day’s supply of sodium in just a 10% supply of calories for the day. Take a look at the daily values for fat and sodium. Use the Spot the Block lesson that 5% is low and 20% is high. Here in this case, 35% is way too high! FMI see

• Skim milk versus whole milk - compare labels for milk and see the differences in calories, fat and saturated fat between whole and skim milk. When it comes to meat and dairy, fat-free really makes a difference in the reduction of calories. Visit

• HERSHEY 100 CALORIE BARS - Bring in a box of these and pass them out. Then go to the facts. In order for a bar of chocolate to be just 100 calories, it has to weight less than an ounce, about 18 grams to be exact. The box contains 7 bars so there are 700 calories in the house. Can you eat just one? It might be a better idea to go and buy a chocolate bar once a week for fewer calories. FMI see

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