Do you know your daily calorie budget?
Most people know what nutrition labels include such as serving size, nutrition information and ingredients. But do you know what the information on these labels is based on? Give up? The answer is a 2,000-calorie daily diet.
If you didn’t know the answer, don’t feel bad. Most Americans don’t either. A new study, however, says text messages suggesting an appropriate daily caloric intake could build awareness and encourage healthier food choices.
Ginger Sorensen, registered dietitian at Advocate Sherman Hospital in Elgin, Ill., says many of the patients she sees aren’t aware that the 2,000-calorie daily diet is the basis of nutrition labeling. “Many people I meet do not know what a recommended calorie level for them is,” she says. “For instance, it’s not unusual for people to think that they cannot lose weight unless they trim back to less than 1,000 calories—a level that makes it almost impossible to meet all nutrition needs.”
Although the 2,000-calorie benchmark is not a specific recommendation, it is what the U.S. Food and Drug Administration considers a reasonable daily intake for many adults. By understanding this basic fact and being reminded of it, researchers hope that consumers will make better use of nutrition labels.
In the study, published online in September in the journal Health Promotion Practice, nearly 250 participants eating at a hospital cafeteria were surveyed to determine if they knew about the 2,000-calorie value. They were then randomly chosen to receive a weekly text message reminder, a weekly email reminder or no reminder at all about the 2,000-calorie value.
Before receiving the weekly reminders, nearly 60 percent of participants could not correctly identify the 2,000-calorie value. After the study was completed, those receiving weekly text messages were twice as likely to correctly identify the 2,000-calorie value compared to those who received no weekly reminders.
Michelle Remkus, registered dietitian at the Good Samaritan Health and Wellness Center in Downers Grove, Ill., agrees that text messaging could definitely be helpful. “Those who aren’t aware of their calorie needs may greatly benefit from a weekly text reminder of their calorie limit. By having a reminder, they may be more inclined to stay within their daily calories,” she says.
Remkus adds, “Eating a nutritious diet is more than just knowing calories. Incorporating as many fruits and vegetables and choosing low-fat dairy, lean meats and whole grains can get you on your way to your healthiest you.”
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