Food Compass: Researchers Come Up With a New Measure to Study Food Characteristics

Food Compass: Researchers Come Up With a New Measure to Study Food Characteristics

If you or someone you know is a fitness freak, then you would know how intriguing it is again knowledge about the nutrient profile of everything that is being consumed. Now, scientists at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts have come up with a system where the food can be graded according to the positive or negative impact it has on the body. This food compass will help consumers, food companies, restaurant and cafeteria owners in making an informed choice about healthier foods. It will also help the policymakers in framing better policies regarding public nutrition.

The study, which was published in the journal ‘Nature Food’, took into account a national database of 8,032 food and beverages that are consumed by Americans. The study laid out 54 various characteristics across nine domains. The domains represented different health-relevant aspects of foods, drinks and mixed meals.

The food, beverage and mixed dishes received a score between 1 to 100 with score of one being the least healthy and hundred meant most healthy. Among the food items studied, the researchers found almost 70 food items with a good score. The study suggested that food that scored less than 30 should be consumed seldom whereas food with scores between 31-69 should be taken moderately. The average food compass score was marked at 43.2.

Other findings of the study were:

Snacks and desserts scored the lowest with an average score of 16.4

With an average score of 78.6, legumes, nuts and seeds were on the higher side of the food compass. Vegetables with an average score of 69.1 and fruits with a mark of 73.9 were the highest scoring categories. Raw fruits touched the perfect 100 mark.

Scores for beverages ranged between 27.6 for sugar-sweetened sodas to a score of 67 for hundred percent fruits and vegetable juices.

Starchy vegetables stood at a mark of 43.2 whereas for beef it was 24.9, 42.6 for poultry and 67.0 for seafood.

Renata Micha, author of this study, who was a faculty member at the Friedman School at the time of this research, said, “With its publicly available scoring algorithm, Food Compass can provide a nuanced approach to promoting healthy food choices-helping guide consumer behaviour, nutrition policy, scientific research, food industry practices, and socially based investment decisions.” The author is currently at the University of Thessaly.

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