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Are the nutrition charts on food packages accurate? Essay

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I. Introduction
Nutrition charts on packaged food is one of the major sources of nutritional info available to consumers. Most developed countries, such as the United States, Canada, Australia, and the UK, require packaged food to display nutritional information.1 Many consumers use nutrition labels as a reference in purchasing food products.1 Some research results indicate that over 50% of the general adult population uses nutrition labels in New Zealand, Canada, and the USA.1
Consumers use nutritional charts to guide their food selection for various purposes.1 Some individuals follow special diets and select food based on macronutrient contents.1 Other individuals with health conditions, such as cardiovascular diseases and diabetes, tend to follow healthier diets and avoid food high in cholesterol, sodium, sugar, or fat.1 Moreover, weight-conscious individuals also use nutrition labels to monitor calorific intake for weight control.1
Globally, obesity and obesity-associated diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and arthritis are becoming more common. Nutrition charts are critical in providing consumers with nutritional information to help guide in healthy eating.1 Some studies show that consumers trust the accuracy in nutrition labels,1 whereas other studies show that some consumers distrust their accuracy.2 In fact, 44% of Canadian consumers perceive nutrition labels as inaccurate.2 Conflicting studies present the dilemma—whether nutrition charts on packaged foods are accurate or not.
II. Evidence for the “yes” side
A recent study suggests that Canadians can trust food labels in terms of trans-fat and saturated fat content.2 The study sampled more than 380 food products including cookies, granola bars, crackers...


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..., S. et al. Trans and saturated fat on food labels in Canada: fact or fiction? Can. J. Public Health 102, 313-316 (2011).
3. Jumpertz, R. et al. Food label accuracy of common snack foods. Obesity (Silver Spring) 21, 164-169 (2013).
4. Brandt, M., Moss, J. & Ferguson, M. The 2006–2007 Food Label and Package Survey (FLAPS): Nutrition labeling, trans fat labeling. J. Food. Compost. Anal. 22, S74-S77 (2009).
5. Silveira, B. M., Gonzalez-Chica, D. A. & da Costa Proença, R. P. Reporting of trans-fat on labels of Brazilian food products. Public Health Nutr. 16, 2146-2153 (2013).
6. Lai, J. F., Dobbs, J., Dunn, M. A., Tauyan, S. & Titchenal, C. A. Inconsistent values for iron content complicate recommending clams as an iron source. J. Food Compost. Anal. 22, 78-82 (2009).
7. Tao, Y. et al. Food nutrition labeling practice in China. Public Health Nutr. 14, 542-550 (2010).



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