Frequently Asked Questions
GDA stands for Guideline Daily Amount. This is the recommended amount of specific nutrients a person should balance and restrict through the day.
GDA labels show the number of kilojoules and grams of sugars, fat, saturates and salt per portion of food. These quantities are expressed as a percentage of your recommended guideline daily amount for each of those nutrients.
GDAs were first launched over a decade ago but they have become more commonplace following the launch of the World Health Organisation’s global strategy to minimise lifestyle diseases.
GDAs can assist in promoting a better understanding of how different foods contribute to a well-balanced diet. GDAs have been determined for energy, sugars, fat, saturated fat (saturates) and salt. These are the nutrients which can heighten the risk of a lifestyle disease, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity and cancer. In the GDA table, these nutrients are expressed as a percentage per serving size, of one’s guideline daily amount.
Nutrient Reference Value (NRV) is a measure of essential nutrients, such as vitamins and minerals that the body needs in order to function. This is given as a percentage of the NRV rather than GDA, and is subject to South African food regulations.
Vitamins and minerals need to be consumed in specific amounts for the optimum performance of essential metabolic functions in the body and to maintain physical health. The NRV is the average daily recommended intake that will meet the nutrient requirement of healthy people over the age of four years, in order to eliminate deficiencies in the body. There are also specific NRVs for children under the age of four years.
GDAs include kilojoules (energy) and the four most important nutrients that may increase the risk of developing a diet-related disease. The high-risk nutrients are fats, saturates (saturated fats), sugars and salt (sodium).
Guidelines for adults are based on typical requirements for healthy men and women over 10 years of age, of normal weight and/or for weight maintenance. The energy GDA values are derived from estimated average population requirements for energy and account for the current activity levels and lifestyle of the average consumer, which tends to be fairly inactive.
For an average woman the energy GDA is 8400 kJ and 10 500 kJ for an average man: these values are used as a reference to calculate the guideline daily amounts for nutrients. The adult GDA values are based on those of the average adult women, in order to discourage over-consumption.
Guidelines have also been developed for children 5 to 10 years of age. Reference GDAs for children are generally only found on labels or literature associated with products intended specifically for children.
There is a need for people to eat healthier. This is a worldwide trend that is particularly heightened in developing countries where limited meals offer less nutritional opportunity and choice. In South Africa where malnutrition is prevalent, the education of the consumer is vitally important. An integral part of this is expressing the nutritional content of foods in a way that is simple and easy to understand.
Independent accredited laboratories analyse the content of the food. The Nutrition Information Centre of the University of Stellenbosch (NICUS) has developed credible criteria and parameters to indicate a “better for you” range for Tiger Brands. Products that meet these strict criteria carry the Eat Well Live Well symbol
NICUS was established in 1997 to act as a reliable and independent source of nutritional information in South Africa. Backed by the University’s Faculty of Medicine, NICUS aims to provide the public, the media and health professionals with the most up-to-date, authoritative information on nutrition to create a scientifically sound nutritional culture.
It is the amount of the specific nutrient contained in a specified portion of the food, divided by the total guideline daily amount that has been set for that nutrient.
The Eat Well Live Well symbol denotes a product that is a better food option. When you see the symbol, you can be assured that it complies to strict criteria with regards to limiting certain high-risk nutrients, such as being low in fat, or alternatively having high amounts of the nutrients that are good for you, such as high in fibre.
The best way to illustrate this calculation is to use an example. Let’s say you have a bowl of Jungle Oats and two slices of Albany Superior Brown Bread for breakfast, here’s how you’d work out your GDA:
All Tiger Brands products carry the GDA table, but these labels are not unique to Tiger Brands. The Eat Well Live Well symbol is however a unique marker for Tiger Brands products that meet specific nutrient criteria.
It is the nutrients in foods rather than specific foods themselves that need to be monitored and limited, depending on one’s health condition. While kilojoules, fats, saturates, salt and sugars form an important part of a balanced diet, unfortunately when consumed in excess, they can cause a number of health problems.
The long-term overconsumption of these nutrients in combination with a lack of physical activity is associated with weight-gain, obesity and increased risk of poor health and diet-related diseases. Following GDAs for a healthy diet can help reduce your overall risk of a lifestyle disease.
No, the nutritional information table notes a wide range of nutrients contained in food, and GDAs do not replace this.
They are only recommendations that provide a guide for a healthy, balanced daily diet. GDA labels enable you to gain a holistic picture of what you are eating within the context of your whole diet, so you can make better-informed choices about what to eat.
Standard GDAs are based on the recommendations for an average adult of healthy weight and average activity levels. While men and women have different GDAs for certain nutrients, in order to keep labelling simple, the GDAs for women are used to represent average adult GDAs on food packaging.
Children do however have different needs to adults, so they require different GDAs. Their GDAs are based on the needs of an average child between the ages of 5 and 10. These GDAs are only placed on products made specifically for children.
Salt is the common name used for sodium chloride (NaCl). Sodium has been linked to an increase in high blood pressure, which is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease and strokes. To convert from sodium to the approximate salt equivalent, multiply sodium content by 2.54.
Nutrients noted in GDA tables can have adverse health effects when ingested in excess. These nutrients have been shown to increase the risk of lifestyle diseases such as heart disease, blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and obesity.