Percentage Daily Intake (%DI)
Have you noticed labels on the front of products in the supermarket?
They look like thumbnails, but we call them %DI. %DI stands for ‘percentage daily intake’.
%DI is a guide to help you make informed choices about the food you eat. Daily Intakes are based on an average diet and can help you understand what’s in your food and how it fits within your balanced diet.
What Is %DI?
Percentage Daily Intakes (%DI) are a guide to how much energy and key nutrients an average adult should eat in order to have a balanced diet. The key nutrients are the ones usually listed in the nutrition information panel on food packs – protein, fat, saturated fat, carbohydrate, sugars and sodium.
For example, an average adult needs an energy intake of around 8700kJ, so 8700 is the DI amount for energy.
Your DI may be higher or lower depending on your energy needs. Energy and therefore nutrient needs vary from person to person depending on gender, age, weight and how much activity you do. People who are very active need more energy than inactive people. Young children also have lower energy needs.
This Is The Recommended DI For An Average Adult In One Day
What Do %DI Labels Tell Me?
A %DI label on the front of a pack shows the amount (as a percentage) that one serve of food contributes to your overall DI. The %DI label can be just for energy, or it may list the %DIs for energy plus the nutrients – protein, fat, saturated fat, carbohydrates, sugars, fibre and sodium.
So if you want to check how much that afternoon snack is giving to your daily energy needs, you can just check the %DI on the front of the label. The %DI label can also be helpful when you have special dietary needs or concerns. For example, if you need to watch your saturated fat intake, you can compare different food products to see which one gives you the lowest percentage of your daily saturated fat.
It is important to note that the %DI label is for adults. Children’s needs are different to adults needs and are not currently listed on %DI labels.
How Do I Read %DI Labels?
The %DI label will be on the front of pack, and will be for energy, or energy and other key nutrients (protein, fat, saturated fat, carbohydrate, sugars and sodium).
To help you read a %DI label on your favourite products, we have an example that shows what one 350g serve of MAGGI World Flavours Mexican Beef contains, and how this contributes to your DI.
The DI for energy is 8,700kJ. One serve of this MAGGI World Flavours gives you 1390kJ which is 17% of your daily energy intake.
The DI for saturated fat is 24g. One serve gives you 0.4g which is 1.7% of the average suitable daily saturated fat intake.
The DI for sugar is 90g. One serve gives you 6.3g which is 7% of the average suitable daily sugar intake.
The DI for sodium is 2,300mg. One serve gives you 610mg which is 26% of the average suitable daily sodium intake.
It is important to remember that %DI’s are an acceptable intake rather than a recommended target, and that they provide a benchmark suitable for most people.
Why Do We Use %DI On Packs?
The labels on packs are a simple way to learn more about which nutrients are in the food or drink you are eating. They also help put the food into perspective of a daily diet; by listing the percentage (%) each nutrient contributes to your DI. To get one hundred percent of the daily intake for energy, you need to have a balance of the different essential nutrients from a variety of foods over the day.
%DI labels are also a useful way to compare different products and help you choose the product most suited to your daily intake needs. This will help you and your family to select a wide variety of foods and achieve a balanced diet.
Do All Products Have %DI On Packs?
Not all products will have %DI on pack. Coffee, food in small packs, Specialist Nutrition and Therapeutic goods are exempt and do not require %DI.
Lollies and chocolates have a slightly different message on the front of pack. These foods will have the “Be Treatwise” message on the front of their pack. The Be Treatwise message points you to the more detailed %DI information on the back of pack and encourages you to think about the treats you are choosing and guides you on how the treat can be enjoyed as part of a well balanced diet.
1. Glycaemic Index website accessed Apr 2011
[NPR1] 2. Deakin University for Better Health Channel. Carbohydrates and the glycaemic index. 2014Available at: http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/carbohydrates_and_the_glycaemic_index
3. Diabetes Australia. Glycaemic Index (GI). 2010. Available at:http://www.diabetesaustralia.com.au/Living-with-Diabetes/Eating-Well/Glycaemic-Index-GI/