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QU’s College of Health Sciences holds workshop on nutrition facts labels

Students learn how to read nutrition labels during the workshop.

Doha: The Human Nutrition Department at the College of Health Sciences, member of the QU-Health at Qatar University, has organized workshops for physicians and healthcare professionals about reading nutrition facts labels and hidden fats in the diet.

Ramadan, especially towards the end of a month of fasting, combined with the celebration of Eid can lead to many people overindulging, particularly on foods that are high in fat, sugar, and salt. Thus, learning how to read a nutrition fact label and being aware of hidden fats in the diet with mindfulness are key to avoid stomach aches, maintain a good digestion and prevent chronic diseases.

Aya Hamdan, faculty at the Human Nutrition Department and organizer of the above workshops stated: “Considering physicians’ complex working environment as a multidisciplinary context of patient care, they can help their patients in making wiser choices and manage chronic diseases.”

The nutrition facts label is a label required on most packaged food. It helps consumers identify the calories, serving size, macronutrients and micronutrients available in the food. Reading food labels can help you make smart food choices. Third year undergraduate students explained for healthcare professionals how to identify information on the nutrition fact labels, ingredients on products and how it results in better food choices. Unhealthy choices can lead to weight gain, heart disease, and other chronic diseases. Students emphasize the importance of educating patients on how to search for products that are low in saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium, sugar and high in fiber, minerals and vitamins based on the percent daily value. In fact, reading food labels helps in controlling the portion size, reducing intake of fat, sugar and calories, avoiding unhealthy ingredients, eating more essential nutrients, comparing products and have a positive impact on controlling chronic diseases.

Moreover, it is not always easy to tell which foods are high in saturated fat and the type of foods that contain hidden fat might be surprising. Diets high in saturated fats may contribute significantly toward total calorie intake and are linked to increased cholesterol levels, which are associated with a higher risk of coronary heart disease and stroke. In fact, hidden fats include whole milk and dairy products like cheese, cream and yogurt, mayonnaise, sauces, fast foods, chocolates, cakes and pastries. Students highlighted the importance of educating patients about hidden fat sources, how to detect the amount of fat in the product while reading food labels and suggest healthier choices.

The workshop included a presentation, activities, and a question-and-answer section at the end. A range of learning activities were provided through which healthcare professionals develop their skills to practice safely and effectively within their evolving scope of practice. Physicians at American Hospital Clinical stated: “Giving quality patient care is our priority. Enhancing our nutrition knowledge and skills absolutely improves patients’ health outcomes.”

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