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Using FDA's Interactive Nutrition Facts Label to Make Healthier Food Choices


Tech Product/Equipment:
Computer and projector, Mobile devices for students, Computer, Speakers

Activity Description


 (CC0/Public Domain)

Students discuss eating habits, answer the main idea and supporting detail questions about a video about serving sizes, interpret and analyze food labels, navigate websites to gain and gather information, and present findings. 


  1. Check the website to ensure it is not blocked at your site.
  2. Read through the lesson plan.
  3. Print and make copies of any handouts.

Program Areas

  • ESL: English as a Second Language
  • ABE: Adult Basic Education


  • Intermediate High
  • Advanced
  • Low
  • Intermediate
  • High
  • All Levels

Lesson Plan


Tell students about when they recently ate snack food, junk food, or fast food. Why did you eat that food? How did you choose it? How did it make you feel? Show the ingredients and nutritional facts label or a photo of it. 


In small groups of three or four students, give students 5 - 10 minutes to ask and answer these questions with their classmates.

  1. What snacks do you eat at home? Tell them about an unhealthy snack. What makes it unhealthy? Tell about a healthy snack. What makes it healthy? 
  2. What is your “guilty pleasure”? In other words, what do you like to eat even though you know it is not healthy? What makes it unhealthy? What about this food do you find hard to resist?
  3. How often do you eat junk food?  Give examples.
  4. Is your diet healthier or less healthy than when you were growing up? Explain.
  5. How much do you think your current health is a result of your diet?
  6. How can people make healthier food choices when they shop for food?

Then have students reconvene and allow a few minutes for groups to share anything they found interesting in their conversations or answer questions they may have. Ask the whole group how they answered question #6.

  • Ask students if they can explain what daily allowance and serving size mean.
  • Ask students if they know who regulates food information.
  • With one of the foods whose label you shared with the class, ask students what they think the serving size would be. Then show students the actual serving size.
  • Tell students that they are going to watch a video to learn about some of these topics. 

Listening Comprehension (Note: This activity can be done individually by students with a note-taking form, or the video can be uploaded to EdPuzzle or a similar site that allows users to create an interactive online exercise that students complete individually.)

Serving Size Snafu video from the New York Times on YouTube

Directions:  Read the questions and predict what you think the correct answers are.  Then watch the video to find out if you are correct.

1.    Which group in the U.S. sets laws regarding food labeling and serving sizes?

       a.    State governments

       b.    The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

       c.    The federal government

2.    What on the food labels can confuse people?

       a.    Amount of calories listed

       b.    Amount of fat listed

       c.    Serving size listed

3.    What is an appropriate amount of calories for an average person to have in one day?

       a.    1000

       b.    2000

       c.    3000

4.    How much sodium (salt) should a person have in one day?

       a.    4 milligrams

       b.    800 milligrams

       c.    1500 milligrams

5.     Congress told the FDA to create standard serving sizes in the early 1990s, and the FDA used surveys from the 1970s and 1980s to do this.  What is the problem with the serving sizes that were set?

       a.    Original portions are out of date

       b.    People underestimate what they eat

       c.    Americans are eating more and more

       d.    All of the above

Discuss the video with the class. What is the main takeaway? Were there any surprises? 

Engagement Enhancement
  1. Tell students that while some food we purchase tastes good, it may be unhealthy, and we can know that by reading food labels. Have students brainstorm what they see on a food label. List the items students name on a whiteboard. Then project the FDA Interactive Nutrition Facts Label and compare it with the students’ list.
  2. Ask students if they know any health conditions that can come from an unhealthy diet (i.e., high cholesterol, weight gain/fat or obesity, heart problems, tooth decay, diabetes, etc.). List the student’s responses on a whiteboard. Ask students the following questions:
  • How often do you read the ingredients list of foods you buy or eat? 
  • What information does a food label provide?
  • What ingredients or nutrition facts do you look for? Why?
  • Does the ingredients list affect whether you buy or how much you eat a certain food?

  3. Show two packages of food, one healthy and one unhealthy, and display the labels using a document camera or by projecting a photo of the labels. Ask students what information they can see on food labels and list them on a whiteboard. Ask students which food they think is healthier and the reasons why.

Engagement Enhancement Extension

Visit the FDA Interactive Nutrition Facts Label and show students how to navigate the site. Then assign students to use the site and others as needed to answer their assigned questions. Students will enter their answers in a shared Google Doc. Note: Students can download the fact sheets on the main page: Understanding and Using The Nutrition Facts Label and What's On The Nutrition Facts Label. Then have students report to the class about the answer to the question they answered and something new they learned. 

Other resources: 

  1. Students will bring to class to class or take photos of the food labels of two packaged or canned foods they have at home, one that is healthy and one that is less healthy.
  2. Students will explain to the class or in small groups which of the two foods they will continue to buy and eat and one or two reasons why based on the information on the foot labels.
  3. For the second food, students will explain giving one or two reasons why they will stop buying this food or will look for healthier alternatives.

Students will use the information on food labels to make healthier food choices and purchases for themselves and their families.


  • Reading Foundational Skills
    • RF.2 - Demonstrate understanding of spoken words, syllables, and sounds (phonemes). (Phonological Awareness)
    • RF.3 - Know and apply grade-level phonics and word analysis skills in decoding words. (Phonics and Word Recognition)
    • RF.4 - Read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension. (Fluency)
  • Speaking and Listening
    • CCR Anchor 1 - Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
    • CCR Anchor 2 - Integrate and evaluate information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.
    • CCR Anchor 4 - Present information, findings, and supporting evidence such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
    • CCR Anchor 5 - Make strategic use of digital media and visual displays of data to express information and enhance understanding of presentations.


Listening, Reading, Speaking, FDA, food, food labels, healthy eating, diet

Creative Commons License

CC BY: This license allows reusers to distribute, remix, adapt, and build upon the material in any medium or format, so long as attribution is given to the creator. The license allows for commercial use.


Unless otherwise noted, the contents of the FDA website ( — both text and graphics — are not copyrighted. They are in the public domain and may be republished, reprinted and otherwise used freely by anyone without the need to obtain permission from FDA. Credit to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as the source is appreciated but not required.
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OTAN activities are funded by contract CN220124 from the Adult Education Office, in the Career & College Transition Division, California Department of Education, with funds provided through Federal P.L., 105-220, Section 223. However, OTAN content does not necessarily reflect the position of that department or the U.S. Department of Education.