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Do Nutrient-Based Front-of-Pack Labelling Schemes Support or Undermine Food-Based Dietary Guideline Recommendations? Lessons from the Australian Health Star Rating System

Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition (IPAN), School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, Deakin University, Geelong 3220, Australia
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Nutrients 2018, 10(1), 32; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu10010032
Received: 31 October 2017 / Revised: 8 December 2017 / Accepted: 18 December 2017 / Published: 5 January 2018
Food-based Dietary Guidelines (FBDGs) promote healthy dietary patterns. Nutrient-based Front-of-Pack Labelling (NBFOPL) schemes rate the ‘healthiness’ of individual foods. This study aimed to investigate whether the Australian Health Star Rating (HSR) system aligns with the Australian Dietary Guidelines (ADGs). The Mintel Global New Products Database was searched for every new food product displaying a HSR entering the Australian marketplace from 27 June 2014 (HSR system endorsement) until 30 June 2017. Foods were categorised as either a five food group (FFG) food or ‘discretionary’ food in accordance with ADG recommendations. Ten percent (1269/12,108) of new food products displayed a HSR, of which 57% were FFG foods. The median number of ‘health’ stars displayed on discretionary foods (2.5; range: 0.5–5) was significantly lower (p < 0.05) than FFG foods (4.0; range: 0.5–5), although a high frequency of anomalies and overlap in the number of stars across the two food categories was observed, with 56.7% of discretionary foods displaying ≥2.5 stars. The HSR system is undermining the ADG recommendations through facilitating the marketing of discretionary foods. Adjusting the HSR’s algorithm might correct certain technical flaws. However, supporting the ADGs requires reform of the HSR’s design to demarcate the food source (FFG versus discretionary food) of a nutrient. View Full-Text
Keywords: food-based dietary guidelines; front-of-pack labelling; health star rating; nutrient profiling; reductionist; dietary patterns food-based dietary guidelines; front-of-pack labelling; health star rating; nutrient profiling; reductionist; dietary patterns
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Lawrence, M.A.; Dickie, S.; Woods, J.L. Do Nutrient-Based Front-of-Pack Labelling Schemes Support or Undermine Food-Based Dietary Guideline Recommendations? Lessons from the Australian Health Star Rating System. Nutrients 2018, 10, 32.

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