Some thoughts about Guideline Daily Amounts (GDA)

I write these observations from the point of view of a (reasonably) healthy individual with no particular restrictions on my diet. I’d be particularly interested in the views of those for who this isn’t the case.

So, the UK government have decided that by the end of this year, the nutritional information on the front of foods will all look the same.

Will this actually happen? Hard to say, but if it does, it would be nice to think that whatever tablets of stone are handed down, they are more about the interests of the user (or in this case the eater) than a token display of information that’s fairly meaningless to most of us.

Sadly, there’s a strong chance that what appears will look something like what’s above. As you can see from the notes, it tries keep Joe Public and the nutritional people happy. And that’s where I think approaches like this fail – for a few reasons.

Why do I need to even know that there’s less than 1% of anything? The chances of me eating more than 100 of the same thing in a day are pretty remote, so they’re unlikely to make much difference to me going over 100% of my guideline amount.  

Are you really trying to tell me that the saturated fat in this meal is going to kill me? On the basis of a guideline amount, the saturated fat in this meal isn’t dangerous – if fact it’s only just over half way to being acceptable. By attributing a danger signal (the colour red) to it, there’s an immediate suggestion that this meal itself is a danger. Although removing the colour would 

What I would suggest (if I was ever asked)

Round stuff up. If we don’t worry about being completely accurate (as is the consumer’s preference according to the Food Standards Agency) then the solution can become much simpler. In the examples below I’ve broken each category (Calories, Sugar etc) into ten

suggested design for food labelling

numbered guideline daily amounts

Make it easy to keep track. Each piece of information about a product’s GDA is only actually useful if you know how much of each you’ve already had. Making it easy to keep track of this information means the information given is more useful. Providing the information in a simple way, like those above, means only simple solutions are needed to keep track.

an easy pen and paper way of keeping track of guideline daily amounts

Old fashioned pen and paper would be enough to keep track of the simpler informaton

a simple way of tracking guideline daily amounts with an app

The simpler data could be tracked on an even simpler app



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