Additional Resources

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  • Read the Label

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    Read the Label is the award-winning outreach campaign that challenges tweens (ages 9–13) to use the nutrition facts label to make healthy food choices. With engaging content, parent information and grassroots outreach, kids and families across the U.S. can Read the Label today — and every day!

    Visit the Site
    Read the Label
  • Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition

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    The FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN) has a wealth of educational materials that make it easy to understand and use the Nutrition Facts Label. We invite you to check out the many campaigns and printables available below.

    Visit the Site

    Understanding and Using the Nutrition Facts Label:

    The Nutrition Facts Label is an easy tool for making quick, informed food choices that contribute to a healthy diet. The FDA offers a variety of resources for understanding and using the Nutrition Facts Label.

    Nutrients and Food: Understanding nutrients in foods can help you use the Nutrition Facts Label more effectively so you can make better choices for your health. Resources for becoming familiar with nutrients and their role in a healthy diet can be found here.

    Want to read more?

    Check the Dietary Guidelines for Americans

    Nutrition Facts Label Orange Strawberry
  • Trade the Bad for the Better

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    Tomato avocado

    It's not always easy to eat well, but with a few simple swaps you can be on your way to a healthier you.

    • Cereals with high sugar
      Cereals with whole grains, or oatmeal
    • White bread and bagels
      Whole grain bread and bagels
    • Cream cheese
      Low-fat cream cheese or low-fat cottage cheese
    • Eggs
      Egg whites, or egg substitutes
    • Fruit yogurt
      Plain yogurt with fresh fruit
    • Sugary drinks, soda, or sports drinks
      Seltzer or unsweetened iced tea
    • Whole milk
      Low-fat milk
    • High-sugar juices
      100% juices
    • Milkshake
      Fruit smoothie
    • Meat with high fat content
      Lean or low-fat meat, chicken, turkey, or fish
    • Bacon
      Turkey bacon, Canadian bacon, or lean prosciutto
    • Mayonnaise
      Sliced avocado
    • Burgers
      Turkey, or veggie burgers
    • Pizza with pepperoni or sausage
      Pizza on whole wheat crust with veggies
    • Chips
      Plain pretzels, rice cakes, or popcorn
    • Pasta
      Whole wheat pasta
    • White rice
      Brown rice, wild rice, or pearled barley
    • Canned soups
      Soups that are low-fat and low-sodium
    • Canned fruit in heavy syrup
      Canned fruit in water or its own juice, or fresh fruit
    • French fries
      Baked sweet potato fries
    • Sugary desserts
      Fresh fruit
    • Ice cream
      Sorbet, or frozen yogurt
    • Cookies
      Graham crackers
    • Cake
      Low-fat whole wheat banana bread
    • Candy
      Dried fruit, or nuts
  • Looking at the Labels

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    Buy foods with few ingredients, and make sure those ingredients are natural rather than man-made ones. Ingredients are listed by the amount of each one found in the product. Something with sugar listed second will be less healthy than something with sugar listed last.

    Looking at the Label Graphic
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  • About Health and Breakfast

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    In order to meet USDA requirements, school breakfasts must contain no more than 30% of calories from fat, and less than 10% from saturated fat. In addition, breakfast must provide one-fourth of the Recommended Dietary Allowance for protein, calcium, iron, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and calories.

    Research shows that children who eat breakfast:

    • Are less likely to be overweight
    • Show improvement on math, reading, and standardized test scores
    • Establish healthier habits for later in life
    • Have fewer absences and incidences of tardiness
    • Are more likely to behave better in school
    • Consume more calcium, fiber, folate, and protein
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    Total calories in a school lunch

    • >10% from saturated fat
    • No more than 30% from fat
  • Being Healthy and Active

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    According to the most recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans

    Children ages 6 to 17 years old need:

    Children and adolescents should do 60 minutes (1 hour) or more of physical activity daily.

    • Aerobic: Most of the 60 or more minutes a day should be either moderate or vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, and should include vigorous-intensity physical activity at least three days a week.
    • Muscle-strengthening: As part of their 60 or more minutes of daily physical activity, children and adolescents should include muscle-strengthening physical activity on at least three days of the week.
    • Bone-strengthening: As part of their 60 or more minutes of daily physical activity, children and adolescents should include bone-strengthening physical activity on at least three days of the week.

    It is important to encourage young people to participate in physical activities that are appropriate for their age, that are enjoyable, and that offer variety.

    Adults 18 to 64 years old need:

    All adults should avoid inactivity. Some physical activity is better than none, and adults who participate in any amount of physical activity gain some health benefits.

    • For substantial health benefits, adults should do at least 150 minutes (two hours and 30 minutes) a week of moderate-intensity, or 75 minutes (one hour and 15 minutes) a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity. Aerobic activity should be performed in episodes of at least 10 minutes, and preferably, it should be spread throughout the week.
    • For additional and more extensive health benefits, adults should increase their aerobic physical activity to 300 minutes (five hours) a week of moderate-intensity, or 150 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity. Additional health benefits are gained by engaging in physical activity beyond this amount.
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    60 minutes of aerobic exercise
    3 days / week

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    Muscle-strengthening
    3 days / week

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    Bone-strengthening
    3 days / week

  • Calorie Consumption

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    • Light Physical Activity

      Physical activity like day-to-day things

    • Male & Female
    •  
    •  
    • Ages
    • 2–3
    • 1,000–1,200
    •  
    • Female
    •  
    •  
    • Ages
    • 4–8
    • 1,200–1,400
    •  
    • 9–13
    • 1,400–1,600
    •  
    • 14–18
    • 1,800
    •  
    • 19–30
    • 1,800–2,000
    •  
    • 31–50
    • 1,800
    •  
    • 51+
    • 1,600
    •  
    • Male
    •  
    •  
    • Ages
    • 4–8
    • 1,200–1,400
    •  
    • 9–13
    • 1,600–2,000
    •  
    • 14–18
    • 2,000–2,400
    •  
    • 19–30
    • 2,400–2,600
    •  
    • 31–50
    • 2,200–2,400
    •  
    • 51+
    • 2,000–2,200
    • Moderately Active

      Physical activity equal to walking 1.5–3 miles a day at 3–4 mph

    • Male & Female
    •  
    •  
    • Ages
    • 2–3
    • 1,000–1,400
    •  
    • Female
    •  
    •  
    • Ages
    • 4–8
    • 1,400–1,600
    •  
    • 9–13
    • 1,600–2,000
    •  
    • 14–18
    • 2,000
    •  
    • 19–30
    • 2,600–2,800
    •  
    • 31–50
    • 2,000
    •  
    • 51+
    • 1,800
    •  
    • Male
    •  
    •  
    • Ages
    • 4–8
    • 1,400–1,600
    •  
    • 9–13
    • 1,800–2,000
    •  
    • 14–18
    • 2,400–2,800
    •  
    • 19–30
    • 2,600–2,800
    •  
    • 31–50
    • 2,400–2,600
    •  
    • 51+
    • 2,200–2,400
    • Active

      Physical activity equal to walking 3 or more miles a day at 3–4 mph

    • Male & Female
    •  
    •  
    • Ages
    • 2–3
    • 1,000–1,400
    •  
    • Female
    •  
    •  
    • Ages
    • 4–8
    • 1,400–1,800
    •  
    • 9–13
    • 1,800–2,200
    •  
    • 14–18
    • 2,400
    •  
    • 19–30
    • 2,400
    •  
    • 31–50
    • 2,200
    •  
    • 51+
    • 2,000–2,200
    •  
    • Male
    •  
    •  
    • Ages
    • 4–8
    • 1,600–2,000
    •  
    • 9–13
    • 2,000–2,600
    •  
    • 14–18
    • 2,800–3,200
    •  
    • 19–30
    • 3,000
    •  
    • 31–50
    • 2,800–3,000
    •  
    • 51+
    • 2,400–2,800
    • Gender
    • Age
    • Light Physical Activity

      Physical activity like day-to-day things

    • Moderately Active

      Physical activity equal to walking 1.5–3 miles a day at 3–4 mph

    • Active

      Physical activity equal to walking 3 or more miles a day at 3–4 mph

    • Male and Female
    • 2–3
    • 1,000–1,200
    • 1,000–1,400
    • 1,000–1,400
    • Female
    • 4–8
    • 1,200–1,400
    • 1,400–1,600
    • 1,400–1,800
    •  
    • 9–13
    • 1,400–1,600
    • 1,600–2,000
    • 1,800–2,200
    •  
    • 14–18
    • 1,800
    • 2,000
    • 2,400
    •  
    • 19–30
    • 1,800–2,000
    • 2,000–2,200
    • 2,400
    •  
    • 31–50
    • 1,800
    • 2,000
    • 2,200
    •  
    • 51+
    • 1,600
    • 1,800
    • 2,000–2,200
    • Male
    • 4–8
    • 1,200–1,400
    • 1,400–1,600
    • 1,600–2,000
    •  
    • 9–13
    • 1,600–2,000
    • 1,800–2,000
    • 2,000–2,600
    •  
    • 14–18
    • 2,000–2,400
    • 2,400–2,800
    • 2,800–3,200
    •  
    • 19–30
    • 2,400–2,600
    • 2,600–2,800
    • 3,000
    •  
    • 31–50
    • 2,200–2,400
    • 2,400–2,600
    • 2,800–3,000
    •  
    • 51+
    • 2,000–2,200
    • 2,200–2,400
    • 2,400–2,800

    A calorie is a unit of energy that measures how much energy food provides to the body. The body needs calories to function properly. (kidshealth.org) Calories consumed must equal calories expended for a person to maintain the same body weight. Consuming more calories than expended will result in weight gain. Conversely, consuming fewer calories than expended will result in weight loss. This can be achieved over time by eating fewer calories, being more physically active, or, best of all, a combination of the two.

    Where should your calories come from?

    The Institute of Medicine has established ranges for the percentage of calories in the diet that should come from carbohydrate, protein, and fat.

    calorie-consumption
    • Young children (1–3 years)
    • Carbohydrate 45–65%
    • Protein 5–20%
    • Fat 30–40%
    • Older children and adolescents (4–18 years)
    • Carbohydrate 45–65%
    • Protein 10–35%
    • Fat 20–35%
    • Adults (19 years and older)
    • Carbohydrate 45–65%
    • Protein 10–35%
    • Fat 20–35%
  • Understanding What it All Means

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    Sodium

    Fact: Virtually all Americans consume more sodium than they need. The estimated average intake of sodium for all Americans ages 2 years and older is approximately 3,400 mg per day.

    A tolerable upper level intake of sodium for children 14 and under is 2,300 milligrams a day; 1,500 milligrams a day is the adequate intake for people 9 years old and older.

    Americans can reduce their consumption of sodium in a variety of ways:

    • Read the Nutrition Facts label for information on the sodium content of foods and purchase foods that are low in sodium.
    • Consume more fresh foods and fewer processed foods that are high in sodium.
    • Eat more home-prepared foods, where you have more control over sodium, and use little or no salt or salt- containing seasonings when cooking or eating foods.
    • When eating at restaurants, ask that salt not be added to your food or order lower sodium options, if available.

    Fats

    It’s a bad idea to try to avoid fat completely, though, especially for teens. A certain amount of fat is necessary for development, especially during puberty when the body grows very quickly. (kidshealth.org)

    The IOM established acceptable ranges for total fat intake for children and adults:

    • children ages 1 to 3 years: 30–40% of calories
    • children and adolescents ages 4 to 18 years: 25–35%
    • adults ages 19 years and older: 20–35%

    These ranges are associated with reduced risk of chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, while providing for adequate intake of essential nutrients. Total fat intake should fall within these ranges.

    Saturated Fats

    Consuming less than 10 percent of calories from saturated fatty acids and replacing them with monounsaturated and/or polyunsaturated fatty acids is associated with low blood cholesterol levels, and therefore a lower risk of cardiovascular disease.

    Trans Fats

    Trans fatty acids are found naturally in some foods and are formed during food processing; they are not essential in the diet. Americans should keep their intake of trans fatty acids as low as possible.

    Cholesterol

    Cholesterol is found only in animal foods. The major sources of cholesterol in the American diet include eggs and egg-mixed dishes, chicken and chicken-mixed dishes, beef and beef-mixed dishes, and all types of beef burgers. Limiting the consumption of the specific foods that are high in cholesterol can reduce cholesterol intake.

    Consuming less than 300 milligrams of cholesterol per day can help maintain normal blood cholesterol levels.

    Consuming less than 200 milligrams of cholesterol per day can help individuals that are at high risk of cardiovascular disease.

    Added Sugars

    Added sugars contribute an average of 16 percent of the total calories in American diets. Added sugars include high fructose corn syrup, white sugar, brown sugar, corn syrup, corn syrup solids, raw sugar, malt syrup, maple syrup, pancake syrup, fructose sweetener, liquid fructose, honey, molasses, anhydrous dextrose, and crystal dextrose.

    Reducing the consumption of these sources of added sugars will lower the calorie content of the diet, without compromising its nutrient adequacy.

    Grains

    Whole grains include the entire grain seed, usually called the kernel. Whole grains are consumed either as a single food (e.g., wild rice or popcorn) or as an ingredient in foods (e.g., in cereals, breads, and crackers). Some examples of whole-grain ingredients include buckwheat, bulgur, millet, oatmeal, quinoa, rolled oats, brown or wild rice, whole-grain barley, whole rye, and whole wheat.

    Refined grains have been milled to remove the bran and germ from the grain. This is done to give grains a finer texture and improve their shelf life, but it also removes dietary fiber, iron, and many B vitamins. Limit the consumption of foods that contain refined grains, especially refined grain foods that contain solid fats, added sugars, and sodium.

    Enriched grains are grain products with B vitamins (thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folic acid) and iron added. Most refined-grain products are enriched.

    understand-1

    Recommended Daily Sodium Intake

    • Estimated average intake/day
    • Top recommended intake/day
    • Adequate intake/day

    Recommended Daily Fat Intake

    understand-2

    Children 1–3 years
    30–40% of calories

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    Children and adolescents 4–18 years
    25–35% of calories

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    Adults 19 years and older
    20–35% of calories

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    On average, 16% of Americans' diet comes from added sugars.

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    Whole grains like popcorn, buckwheat, barley, rolled oats, and whole wheat are an important part of a healthy diet.

  • General Recommendations

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    Individuals should meet the following recommendations as part of a healthy eating pattern and while staying within their calorie needs.

    • Increase vegetable and fruit intake.
    • Eat a variety of vegetables, especially dark-green and red and orange vegetables, and beans and peas.
    • Consume at least half of all grains as whole grains. Increase whole-grain intake by replacing refined grains with whole grains.
    • Increase intake of fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products, such as milk, yogurt, cheese, or fortified soy beverages.
    • Choose a variety of protein foods, which include seafood, lean meat and poultry, eggs, beans and peas, soy products, and unsalted nuts and seeds.
    • Increase the amount and variety of seafood consumed by choosing seafood in place of some meat and poultry.
    • Replace protein foods that are higher in solid fats with choices that are lower in solid fats and calories and/or are sources of oils.
    • Use oils to replace solid fats where possible.
    • Choose foods that provide more potassium, dietary fiber, calcium, and vitamin D, which are nutrients of concern in American diets. These foods include vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and milk and milk products.

    Want to read more?

    Check the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

    general-recommendations

Helpful Tips

father-daughter-cooking

Setting a good example by eating a balanced breakfast every day is a great way to teach your kids the importance of breakfast foods.

boy-wink

Mornings are busy! Make breakfast ahead of time and keep healthy on-the-go options like fresh fruits at home to save time.

family-breakfast

Eat breakfast together as a family to help your kids make breakfast a habit. You can even use your time together to talk about healthy food choices.