AMES – A month into the New Year, many people may be ready to give up their resolutions in order to improve their eating habits for better health. However, the newly updated nutrition label can help you change your habits and maintain your resolve, says Jody Gatewood, a nutritionist at Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

“For the first time in 20 years, the nutrition label for packaged foods has been significantly updated to make it easier to understand. The new features will help consumers make informed choices about the foods they eat, ”said Gatewood.

The new label appeared on all food packaging on January 1, 2021, Gatewood said. The changes to the food label include the following:

• The serving size is large and in bold. The portion sizes have been updated to better reflect what people are actually eating.

• Calories are now displayed in a larger, bolder font to better display this information.

• Added sugars are included under total sugars so that consumers can better understand how much sugar has been added to the product. Some foods naturally contain sugar, such as fruits and dairy products. The new label lets you see how much sugar is naturally present and how much is added. When you consume too much sugar, it can be difficult to meet nutritional needs while following the calorie recommendations.

• Potassium and Vitamin D are now required on the label as people need to consume more of these nutrients. Vitamins A and C are no longer required on the label as deficiencies in these vitamins are rare these days. Calcium and iron are still required on the label.

“Use the nutrition label to choose foods that support your health needs,” Gatewood said.

For more tips, see Reading the Food Label, a new video from ISU Extension and Outreach.

For information on meal planning, shopping, cooking, recipes and much more, see Spend Smart. Eat smart. This resource from ISU Extension and Outreach will help you keep your family in a rush with healthy, affordable meals.