Dispelling nutrition myths, ranting, and occasionally, raving

Do you use the %DV to make food choices?

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Myth 38: The % Daily Value on the Nutrition Facts table is not very useful.
What Dietitians of Canada says:
“The % Daily Value (%DV) is useful for anyone wanting to make healthier choices. You can use the %DV to see if a food has a little or a lot of a nutrient… An easy rule of thumb: 5% DV or less is a little, and 15% DV or more is a lot for any nutrient.”
What I say:
Personally, I don’t find the Percent Daily Value (%DV) very useful. If consumers are also finding that it’s not very useful I think that instead of trying to convince them that it is we should perhaps be listening to them and creating a nutrition label that IS actually useful. Oh sure, this %5 is a little and 15% is a lot campaign is alright I suppose. However, I think the concept behind the %DV is confusing and misleading. It’s based on the nutrient needs for the “average” person, who’s really average though? We’re a pretty diverse bunch and we can’t expect a 120 lb 50-year-old woman to have the same needs as a 200 lb 25-year-old man. I find it easier to get an idea of my personal nutrient needs and then just look at the actual values for the nutrients I’m concerned about rather than looking at the %DV. Also, with our sedentary North American lifestyles, many of us probably don’t need the 2, 0000 kcal/day diet that the %DV is based on.
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Author: Diana

I'm a registered dietitian from Nova Scotia, living and working in Ontario, Canada. My goal is to help people relearn how to have a healthy relationship with food.

4 thoughts on “Do you use the %DV to make food choices?

  1. Website like calorie count dot com rely on %DV heavily for nutritional goals. You can make all sorts of fancy charts and graphs but none of it is useful if it miscalculates your minimum kcal/day.

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  2. I didnt know about the 2,000 Cal diet as being the basis for the %DV. I’m a fairly active individual and try to keep my intake to less than 1,800. A sedentry lifestyle at 2,000 just screams unhealthy weight gain.

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    • Hi Costas,
      Thanks for reading from Greece! 1800 kcal/day doesn’t sound like a lot for someone your size and activity level. You’re probably eating more calories than you think. Research has shown even nutrition labels on packaged foods are often off; foods had up to 18% more calories than the packages stated!

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  3. Pingback: Does adding the percent daily value to the nutrition label add value or confusion? | bite my words

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