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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

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Questions and Answers on Make Your Calories Count

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  1. What is the "Make Your Calories Count" educational Web-based program? 
    "Make Your Calories Count - Use the Nutrition Facts Label for Healthy Weight Management" is a new Web-based interactive on-line learning program that is also available in a downloadable format. It is designed to help consumers understand and use the nutrition facts label to plan a healthful diet. This program introduces "Labelman," an animated character who will guide consumers through three interactive learning modules. The program includes exercises to help consumers explore the relationship between serving sizes and calories, while they learn how to limit certain nutrients and get enough of others. For simplicity, the program presents two nutrients that should be limited (saturated fat and sodium) and two nutrients that should be consumed in adequate amounts (fiber and calcium).

    Consumers can use the nutrition facts label to take control of their caloric intake and weight and to make healthy food choices, if they know how. This program will show consumers how, in part, by explaining the relationship between calories and serving sizes, as well how to use the percent Daily Value on the nutrition label. 

  2. What is the objective of the "Make Your Calories Count" program? 
    The program will help consumers learn how to use the nutrition facts label to identify lower calorie, nutrient-dense foods. The program is intended to help consumers use the label to make their calories count by giving them the tools to understand how many calories they are consuming, and to identify foods with nutrients that promote good health and foods with nutrients that should be limited. 

  3. How is the "Make Your Calories Count" program structured? 
    The program follows a three-step process to assess specific food choices by using the information provided on the food label. Consumers can learn how to determine the calories consumed per serving. They can also learn how to determine if a food contains high or low amounts of useful nutrients and if it contains nutrients that should be limited for a healthy diet. For simplicity, two nutrients that should be limited (saturated fat and sodium) and two that need to be consumed in adequate amounts (fiber and calcium) are highlighted in this program, although other nutrients and ingredients mentioned in the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans are also discussed. The animated guide "Labelman," takes the user through interactive questions and exercises of increasing complexity. By using this program, consumers can develop skills to evaluate their options to make better food choices. 

  4. What is the target audience for the "Make Your Calories Count" program?
    The program is intended for a general consumer audience. 

  5. How does the "Make Your Calories Count" program fit into the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) "Prevention" priority? 
    In June 2006, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Michael Leavitt identified nine priorities for transforming America's health care system. These priorities will be the primary focus during the remainder of his tenure. One of these priorities is "Prevention." The Secretary's vision for this area is as follows: "The risk of many diseases and health conditions can be reduced through preventative actions. A culture of wellness deters or diminishes debilitating and costly health events. Individual health care is built on a foundation of responsibility for personal wellness." Nutrition is one of the nine pillars of "Prevention." The Healthy Weight Management Program is featured as one of the activities under the "Nutrition Pillar" of HHS' "Prevention" priority. 

  6. Is the "Make Your Calories Count" program related to the Calories Count initiative, which also emphasized "Prevention"? Yes. On August 11, 2003, FDA convened an Obesity Working Group (OWG) to help confront the problem of obesity in the United States and to help consumers lead healthier lives through better nutrition. The OWG was charged with preparing an action plan to cover critical dimensions of the obesity problem from FDA's perspective, using the agency's existing authorities.

    One of the recommendations from the OWG report "Calories Count" encouraged FDA to focus its education strategy on influencing behavior, as well as imparting knowledge, in the context of healthy choices for consumers. The report stated that education programs should help consumers make more informed food choices that result in better weight management. As a follow-up action to this recommendation, FDA began the development of the "Make Your Calories Count" interactive Web-based program. This program was included in the Secretary's Prevention Plan during development. 

  7. Are there any companion materials to the "Make Your Calories Count" program available? Nutrition Facts Label brochure
    A new downloadable "Nutrition Facts Label" brochure is also available on FDA's web site (PDF, 350Kb). The brochure describes in greater detail how consumers can use the nutrition facts label as they shop, plan meals, and prepare meals each day. While targeted for a general audience, the brochure may also be useful for health professionals in counseling their patients on healthy eating. It provides information to empower consumers to make more healthful food choices. The brochure, like the Web-based program, is based on the recommendations found in the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. By making the nutrition facts label easier to understand and use, FDA hopes to help consumers make quick and informed food choices that contribute to life-long healthy eating habits. 

  8. How can we view these materials?
    The "Make Your Calories Count" program and the new "Nutrition Facts Label" brochure are accessible at Make Your Calories Count.