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Building A Better Nutrition Label

Posted February 09, 2017 12:00 AM by Hannes
Pathfinder Tags: food nutrition sugar

I’m a big fan of Nutella, but I’ve always thought that for a sweet hazelnut-cocoa spread its commercials contain liberal doses of baloney. Each ad I’ve seen promotes the product as a healthy, nutritious, natural spread and shows it being slathered onto whole-grain bread and waffles. And of course, kids love the taste, as it’s chocolate. Of course, a glance at the nutrition label indicates that the reason kids love it is that the first two ingredients are sugar and oil, and lots of it. But even for a health-conscious adult reading a label, “30 grams of sugar per serving” often seems abstract and difficult to measure.

About a year ago, German consumer interest group Verbraucherzentrale Hamburg began publishing images showing a graphic representation of a product’s composition. Their image for Nutella, shown here as an example, illustrates that the “healthy” chocolate spread is indeed mostly sugar and palm oil. Graphic nutritional information does what even a list of nutrition facts doesn’t: it provides a much better representation of ingredient amounts, not just their place in the nutritional hierarchy. The German images also teed off on the purportedly healthy Slim Fast and Capri Sun: the former is almost half sugar, while the latter is mostly sugar and water, despite being marketed as “made from sun-ripened fruits.”

Sugar has spawned its own public health crisis and in many ways is the new saturated fat in the public health crosshairs. While added sugar consumption in the US is steadily decreasing, Americans still consume about 94 g per day as of 2015. Consumer advocacy groups believe that nutrition labels are part of the problem. In particular, current labels list a product’s sugar content, but not added sugars or a percent daily value, like they do for fat, cholesterol, carbs and protein. In May 2016, the FDA announced some tweaks to US nutrition labels, requiring food manufacturers to include the total amount and percent daily value of added sugars.

The new labels (as shown here) will also make the serving size and calories more prominent, reword the servings per container verbiage, and eliminate the calories from fat requirement. Manufacturers grossing over $10 million in annual sales have until July of next year to comply with the new labels; those making less will have until 2019 to change their labels.

Of course, consumers often eat what they’re “not supposed to” even when they know exactly what’s in a product or what it could potentially do to them. Even worse, the new labels could have unintended consequences. A 2015 article in the journal Appetite found that the new labels actually caused consumers to overpurchase and potentially overconsume food because the majority of laypeople are still confused as to the definition of serving size. In this case, making the serving size more prominent produced an effect opposite its intention.

I still find the new labels—especially the graphic ones—pretty interesting, and I’ll surely think twice about considering Nutella anything more than junk food in the future.

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#1

Re: Building A Better Nutrition Label

02/09/2017 8:34 AM

Once you start believing what they tell you in commercials, the next thing is you'll start believing political ads.

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#2

Re: Building A Better Nutrition Label

02/09/2017 11:10 AM

The amount of sugar in the diagram does not even come close the the 1g reported.

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#7
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Re: Building A Better Nutrition Label

02/10/2017 10:12 AM

The amount of sugar in the diagram does not even come close the the 1g reported.

I don't think the sample label shown is for the Nutella. It is showing how a new label will look. I can't imagine a serving size of Nutella being 2/3 of a cup. Plus the narrative said it was 30g per serving.

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#3

Re: Building A Better Nutrition Label

02/09/2017 12:12 PM

The biggest health crisis is getting people off the couch not the diet.

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#17
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Re: Building A Better Nutrition Label

02/12/2017 3:09 PM

I developed a new work out for obesity. Its called a push away, you simply push away from the table when you eat enough to not feel hungry.

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#25
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Re: Building A Better Nutrition Label

02/14/2017 1:17 PM

And if you eat slowly enough, you give your body time to signal you that you've had enough. Best to dine with others and have conversations to 'drag out' the meal.

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#29
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Re: Building A Better Nutrition Label

02/15/2017 9:31 AM

Usually that is not within my reach. Meals at my house are mostly hasty with the wife blaring at me about the dogs barking, the cats meowing, and the bird talking, or the news, or her upcoming doctor appointment I must bring her to, or the democrats, or what I did or did not do before I started eating.

I just want to finish my food, and go bury up in my projects.

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#4

Re: Building A Better Nutrition Label

02/10/2017 8:56 AM

Perhaps you favor jelly? That has 13gm of sugar per 20gm serving, but no oil. Definitely want to stay away from palm oil - that is killing the orangutans or so we are told. If it is bad for them, then it must be bad for us too.

So the commercials are a bit skewed. ALL commercials are a bit skewed.

There are far worse oils than palm, but likewise better ones too. Not really a horrible oil to eat, unless you love orangutans.

Genetics have far more to do with health than diet. I grew up on traditional Pa Dutch farm fare, which was very high in animal fats. We ate fat at times, and everything was cooked in lard. At 66 I still have very clean arteries.

Can't really argue with you on the sugar point, but as noted, other traditional bread spreads are very high in sugar as well.

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#5
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Re: Building A Better Nutrition Label

02/10/2017 9:48 AM

Did you grow up on scrapple? I tried it for the first time last year and loved it.

In my experience it's an either/or situation between fat/oils and sugar--if I try to cut down one I crave the other. I usually just go for a sensible amount of fat/olive oil and a sensible amount of exercise and hope for the best.

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#6
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Re: Building A Better Nutrition Label

02/10/2017 10:05 AM

Scrapple (pon haus) - the breakfast of Pa Dutchmen. Of course - my aunt came from a farm and her father made it for us.

Another treat from that area - Seltzer's Lebanon Bolgna. This in a sandwich was lunch more times than not. It is a bit more refined than scrapple, but still animal fat heavy.

That brings up another thought of food you shouldn't eat that we ate quite regularly - bacon. Real small farm made bacon in thick slices. My uncle lived to well into his 80's, with no heart problems. He ate a lot of 4 to 5 eggs fried in a skillet of bacon grease for breakfast for years. Again- genetics over diet.

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#18
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Re: Building A Better Nutrition Label

02/12/2017 4:13 PM

My Grandparents did the same, on a farm.. Lots of bacon and everything was cooked in lard or bacon fat. Gravy was called "Sop", and it was nothing more than beef broth, water, and flour , mixed with bacon grease. You "sop'd" it up homemade bread. Kept you going when your day started at 4:00 AM and finished with a shot of bourbon and branch, at 9:00 PM.. Maybe it was the latter that helped the arteries stay clean! There used to be a old tale of finding drunks, dead, either of exposure or cirrhosis of the liver, and with autopsies, being amazingly free of artery plaque. That may have been made up to justify an overuse of the same.

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#20
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Re: Building A Better Nutrition Label

02/13/2017 12:03 PM

It is the no-fat stuff that is causing diabetes (contrary to the doctrine).

Sure there may be some bad fats (palm oil is clearly one of them). Beef tallow is another, but who eats that? Make candles out of it.

It is the processed foods that secretly contain these slipped ingredients that seem to mess with my A1C.

I vote in favor of butter, and coconut oil (med. weight fatty acids).

Yeah, a lot of sugar is bad, and so is too many white flour biscuits.

I sure do miss me some white flour biscuits with either chocolate sausage gravy, or white flour gravy with sausage.

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#21
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Re: Building A Better Nutrition Label

02/13/2017 1:19 PM

Balance all your sugars and fats our with lots of green veggies and other high fiber foods and you can have a few white flour biscuits on occasion, at least with the butter. That's my approach to controlling sugar levels, and it works for me.

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Re: Building A Better Nutrition Label

02/13/2017 3:35 PM

Thank you, pilgrim.

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#23
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Re: Building A Better Nutrition Label

02/13/2017 4:09 PM

I was "diagnosed" many years ago, but by following a very healthy diet high in fiber, I still take no meds or insulin.

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Re: Building A Better Nutrition Label

02/14/2017 8:30 AM

I have noticed that if I eat something like KFC, including the biscuit - illness surrounds me for days.

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Re: Building A Better Nutrition Label

02/14/2017 1:25 PM

That may be due to the "extra" stuff they put in their product - preservatives, fillers, etc..

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Re: Building A Better Nutrition Label

02/10/2017 12:55 PM

Look also at the Eskimo diets, regarding percentages of fats..

Early (and maybe still to this day?) explorers of the Antarctic expeditions relied of heavy doses of chocolate, 3000-5000+ calories a day of it..with high fat content. I understand the current thinking is to add more carbs, but they are more bulky to carry, being only 1/2 the caloric content by weight. Of course, stewed penguin is also an option..

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Re: Building A Better Nutrition Label

02/14/2017 2:01 PM

I don't believe genetics has much effect on health. Farmers would work very hard and the fats and sugars got burned up during the course of a hard working day. Today it's a different story; high tech farm machinery now does a lot of the back breaking work farmers used to have to do. It's physical labor that keeps you from gaining bad weight, not your diet.

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Re: Building A Better Nutrition Label

02/14/2017 2:28 PM

Not reading my posts very closely, are you? We aren't talking farmers here - just in farm country and related to one, so we had their foods to eat and we ate like we were farmers. I listed myself, a sit at the desk and draw engineer most of the time, and my uncle, who had his back nearly destroyed by the railroad at 35 years of age, and basically sat in a chair after that. I'm basically clean at 66, only problem is a congenital heart murmur that has never left, and he never had a heart problem by the time he died from complications of diabetes at 85. And let me throw in my Dad as well, who worked the cash register in a small store for most of his life. My Dad had some minor problems, but never any blockage and he lived to 85. Died from heart failure, yes, but brought on from a spreading Mersa infection from a botched foot operation that he could never beat. And while at it, my Mom lived to 89 and went out from Alzheimers - no arterial blockage problems.

I could go back to the generation before that as well, and list some sedentary life styles with no heart problems of the blockage type.

Now if that isn't genetics protecting people who ate what is considered trash most of their lives, what is it?

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#8

Re: Building A Better Nutrition Label

02/10/2017 10:45 AM

Here in Canada, we have a program on CBC(Canadian Broadcasting Corporation - Marketplace) which did an analysis of Nutella. Interestingly enough, it basically said there are about 9 hazel nuts in a jar, along with a little cocoa and sugar (among other "ingredients"/fillers/preservatives-to give it some extra shelf life). Of course every kid likes the stuff, you may as well sprinkle your bread/toast with sugar and a little cocoa powder, it's basically the same thing.

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Re: Building A Better Nutrition Label

02/10/2017 1:58 PM

Taste / effective content is but half of the desirable equation when it comes to food. The feeling of oils and grease between the tongue and roof of the mouth also add quite a bit to the enjoyable feeling of eating the Nutella. Without that, it would be much less a sellable product.

Perhaps we are missing the point here. I believe this is marketed as a spread for children. The Nutella on the bread gets the kids to eat the bread, which if the bread is high in grains / fiber, not white / over processed, is a good thing, and the more healthy breads could use a little help to be palatable to a child.

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Re: Building A Better Nutrition Label

02/10/2017 2:02 PM

. . . some breads could pass for OSB.

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#12
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Re: Building A Better Nutrition Label

02/10/2017 2:39 PM

What is the most popular bread these days? Probably the cheapest available, which, I have never seen as anything but plain old white. Sure they say they add nutritional value, but they are all additives. I don't know the last time any one independently tested what was in the stuff.

In the old days, with Nutella, you would be getting sugar and wood pulp with a little bit of wheat- well refined.

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Re: Building A Better Nutrition Label

02/10/2017 2:58 PM

Maybe for some. Other than a hamburger roll, or what you must take in a restaurant with breakfast, I can't tell you when the last time was I ate white bread. I know we haven't bought a loaf of that empty carbohydrate for at least 25 years. I don't eat much "normal" bread. I either eat high grain flat breads or if in a loaf, it has some actual chunks of grains or nuts in it. I used to love the texture of white bread - not anymore. Even still, any bread has less nutrients than desired. Better to eat raw oats, which I do daily.

But getting back to the post, you are probably right - it is white bread the average kid is eating. So maybe the Nutella is not what we should be concerned about.

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#15
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Re: Building A Better Nutrition Label

02/10/2017 3:21 PM

Depends on how much of the spread they eat! How "active" do you want the to be on a sugar overload.

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#13

Re: Building A Better Nutrition Label

02/10/2017 2:47 PM

Thanks for the liberal dose of factual presentation. I will make sure I go out after work today, and buy the wife a large can of that. She takes it all in one sitting.

Maybe I could find her some raw palm oil to thin it out a bit?

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#16

Re: Building A Better Nutrition Label

02/11/2017 11:47 PM

Solar's homemade nutella....

...mix thoroughly in blender....add skim milk as needed for consistency....

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#19
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Re: Building A Better Nutrition Label

02/13/2017 11:58 AM

If you mix in a fifth of vodka, (or gin), and eat your whole batch of homemade,

you won't have to wwwooorry abot tonsistity.

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