Better Choices for Life Frequently Asked Questions
What is the purpose of the Better Choices for Life Program?
Many products and services available for purchase make claims regarding their relationship to health, including specifically referencing preventing, managing, or even reversing diabetes. It can be a confusing process when a consumer is looking to evaluate a purchase from the perspective of how it will relate to their health.
The Better Choices for Life program brings the science and evidence-based approach the American Diabetes Association® (ADA) takes in its work to inform everyday purchases by consumers. The goals of the program are to:
- Provide consumers a simple way to identify products and services that are suitable for people with diabetes or at-risk for diabetes.
- Provide guidance to identify optimal food choices that support overall heath goals and targets.
- Bring the ADA’s science and research to guide every day, split-second decision making via brand labeling and directional guidance.
Why is the ADA offering this program now?
The increase in diabetes and its prevalence makes those who are affected attractive to companies seeking to provide products for purchase by these consumers. While many companies operate with integrity and honesty, there are those who make claims about their product and diabetes which aren’t backed up by evidence to support those claims. In addition, the focus on marketing something as “healthy” (including food products, diets, and other types of goods and services) can increase confusion when a consumer is evaluating their purchase.
How is this related to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) labeling regulations? Don’t they govern what claims a product can make?
The FDA does explicitly define the requirements for food labeling and marketing claims involving specific health outcomes. However, there are categories that are outside of these requirements. The evaluation of a product by the ADA can provide a consumer the perspective of our experts and the veracity of the evidence to support their claims.
What are the products the program evaluates?
There are three product categories currently in the program: Food and Nutrition, Health and Wellness, and Diabetes Health products. Each category has explicit product types that are eligible for consideration and it’s important to note that not every type of product or food is eligible for evaluation. That said, the absence of the product from our categories or the absence of the mark does not mean the product isn’t a choice we’d recommend. It simply means the product hasn’t been evaluated.
Is the program a “certification” program?
This is not a certification program. The criteria against which the products are evaluated are the existing recommendations in terms of the Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes (Standards of Care), consensus statements and existing research and evidence provided to support a product’s claims.
How are products evaluated?
If a product is eligible for evaluation, the criteria used to evaluate it is published on our website for review.
Food and Nutrition
The Better Choices for Life program utilizes the expertise of the ADA’s registered dietitians, clinical research, and an advisory board of external clinicians and nutrition professionals. They determine the categories that are eligible for review based on the ability to determine specific criteria with which to evaluate the nutritional makeup of a specific food product.
The criteria themselves are determined by evaluating the clinical research, the current consensus view of the ADA’s nutrition committee, and the overall nutritional benefit of the macro nutrients for someone with diabetes or desiring to prevent diabetes.
The categories are continuously evaluated and expanding, as are the criteria.
Products that don’t meet the criteria as defined are not eligible to receive the program’s mark.
Health and Wellness
Health and Wellness product categories are defined to include:
- Personal care
- Non-food items
- Fitness programs
- Lifestyle programs
- Coaching programs
The full process and criteria are outlined and published on our website. As a general rule, the program evaluates products in these categories against the claims they make about the product and any evidence that is provided to support those claims. In addition, the products are considered in terms of the Standards of Care guidance and recommendations related to health, as well as any other science that supports the applicability to overall health.
It’s important to emphasize that the program does not establish new or specific criteria for each category. The program evaluates the evidence to support the claims made and any other support from the work that the ADA leads.
Products utilized in the everyday management of diabetes, as indicated by clinical care guidance, fall into these categories:
- Glucose meters
- Diabetes supplies (non-Rx)
- Over the counter medications
Excluded from the categories are products that require a prescription for purchasing a product and pharmacologic products (specific drugs or medications).
The full process and criteria are outlined and published on our website. As a general rule, the program evaluates products in these categories against the claims they make about the product and any evidence that is provided to support those claims. In addition, the products are considered in terms of the Standard of Care guidance and recommendations related to health, as well as any other science that supports the applicability to overall health.
It’s important to emphasize that the program does not establish new or specific criteria for each category. The program is evaluating the evidence to support the claims made and any other support from the work that the ADA leads.
Is this an endorsement?
The ADA does not endorse products. This program is meant to communicate that the products and services bearing the mark have been evaluated against a set of criteria and/or have had their claims reviewed against published credible research and scientific evidence.
What does it mean if a type of product isn’t evaluated?
It only means that either the product isn’t either eligible for evaluation or they haven’t applied for evaluation.
What does it mean if a product that is one of the categories you evaluate doesn’t have the mark?
There isn’t an inherent meaning if a product doesn’t have a mark. Rather, if a product does have the mark, it means they were evaluated and it confirms the ADA has validated the claims and appropriateness for use by those with diabetes or those concerned about their health.
Do companies pay for this mark?
There is an application fee to evaluate products to cover the costs to administer the review process. Those that receive approval are given an opportunity to license the mark for use in their advertising and pay a fee for that use.
How do companies request to be evaluated?
If they are interested in participation or wish to learn more, simply use the contact button to submit an inquiry, call 1-800-DIABETES (800-342-2383), or email AskADA@diabetes.org to request someone to contact you.