How can the information on food labels help me control my weight?

Vandana  R. Sheth
Nutrition & Dietetics
The nutrition facts label provides valuable information about the food you plan to eat. First, you need to understand how to read the label. Recognize that the serving size listed on the label is the key. When you compare products made by different companies of the same item, you will be able to identify one that is lower in calories, fat, sodium, higher in fiber, etc. This is useful information that will help you control your weight.
Laura Motosko, MSEd, RD
Nutrition & Dietetics
Food labels provide valuable information to help you control your weight. It is important to note the serving size on a label which is the reference for all information provided. Therefore you will have to determine how many serving sizes are in your portion of food on your plate. Note the following on the label to see that it fits within your meal plan budget: total calories, saturated fat, and sodium. The ingredient list will provide you with the contents of the food and allow you to make more wholesome food choices. The ingredient listed first is contained in the largest amount, followed by those in lesser amounts.
Dede Bonner
Health Education
Besides being a portion-control hawk, the most successful dieters are label fiends. Not knowing how to read the Nutrition Facts on labels is a big obstacle in achieving lifetime weight control. A clear explanation is offered by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Web site at

Also get in the habit of reading the list of ingredients. The list is in descending order by weight. By comparing cereal boxes, for example, you’ll see that one brand has more whole wheat and fewer calories than another brand. Choose products with less sodium, corn fructose or corn syrup, saturated fats, and fewer long strings of unappealing chemicals.

As you get more experienced, you’ll be able to spot food manufacturers’ purposefully misleading statements (reduced-fat crackers with added salt) and confusing bird-size portions that deemphasize real calorie damage.
Cleveland Heart Clinic’s preventive medicine consultant Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn advises, “Read the ingredients! And be careful not to get complacent.”
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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.