New Study Points to the Potential of a Nationalized At-a-Glance Food Labeling System to Help U.S. Consumers Make More Nutritious Choices
Portland, Maine (June 11, 2014)—With poor diet blamed for killing more Americans than smoking, drinking and drug use combined, a new study indicates that simply adding the Guiding Stars at-a-glance nutrition guidance program to products and supermarket shelf tags across the nation could contribute significantly to curbing the national nutritional health crisis.
According to new independent data published recently in the International Food and Agribusiness Management (IFAMA) Review, the nationwide implementation of the Guiding Stars Program (GSP) on ready-to-eat breakfast cereals alone could prompt consumers to reduce the amount of added sugars and increase the amount of whole grains in their diets by 2.5 percent, while also reducing calories and sodium intake. The findings raise interesting questions about the potential for improving the nutritional quality of consumers’ choices in other product categories as well, such as bread, canned goods and boxed/packaged non-perishable food items.
“This is exactly the kind of positive outcome we had hoped would result from independent testing of the efficacy of the Guiding Stars Program on a national scale,” said Dr. Jeffrey Blumberg, professor of nutrition science and policy at Tufts University and a member of the Scientific Advisory Panel of the Guiding Stars Licensing Company.
“While the results may seem small in the face of the challenge before us, the fact is we didn’t get ourselves into this national health crisis overnight, and there is no miracle cure. It’s going to take education and the right tools, along with a number of changes in mindset and lifestyle, over time to put us back on the right path.”
The IFAMA study is the first of its kind to extrapolate the results of previous localized research on a national scale. Researchers from the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, U.S. Department of Agriculture and the University of Florida investigated potential changes in ready-to-eat cereal consumption predicted by estimated demand based on implementation of Guiding Stars or a 10 percent price intervention. The study determined that implementing a hypothetical nationwide Guiding Stars program could lead to “statistically significant improvements in diet quality,” and that “lower income consumers and children would benefit most from changes in ready-to-eat cereal choices.”
The results also confirm that the Guiding Stars rating system, as validated in a similar study published last year in Food Policy based on research conducted at Hannaford and in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2010, aids in decision-making for consumers who don’t read or have a hard time understanding the government-mandated Nutrition Facts label.
“We all want to make better choices, for our children especially, and these findings should be useful to policymakers and the food industry as a strategy for assisting shoppers in making healthful choices,” Blumberg said. “If similar results are obtained with other food categories, the overall impact of the Guiding Stars Program in promoting better dietary choices could have important benefits on public health.”
The full report, “Simulating the Potential Effects of a Shelf-Tag Nutrition Information Program on Diet Quality Associated with Ready-to-Eat Cereals,” is published in Volume 17 Special Issue A, 2014 of the IFAMA Review.
For more information about the Guiding Stars program, visit www.guidingstars.com.
About Guiding Stars Licensing Co.
Since 2006, Guiding Stars has been leading the way in helping consumers make nutritious food choices and has received patents in both the U.S. and Canada for its nutrition rating algorithm. The Guiding Stars nutrition guidance program is a simple, easy-to-understand tool for making good nutrition choices and is designed to make a positive and lasting impact on public health. Guiding Stars is currently found in almost 1,900 supermarkets in the U.S. and Canada, including Hannaford, Food Lion, Homeland, Marsh Supermarkets, B&R, Price Chopper in Kansas City, and more than 350 Loblaw, Provigo and Provigo Le Marche stores in Quebec and Ontario. Guiding Stars has also expanded into public schools, colleges and hospitals and appears on the Shopper mobile iPhone application. Additional information can be found at www.guidingstars.com.
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