Keeping Score: How to Build a Better Grocery Bag
Lifestyle Confused about making healthy food choices? You’re not alone. Conflicting package claims and hard-to-read nutrition labels complicate food shopping that should be simple.
What should you buy and consume? Protein over carbohydrates? Calories over grams?
For consumers who want to eat healthy, shopping for a better bag of groceries almost requires a nutrition degree. The good news is the NuVal® Nutritional Scoring System, found in grocery stores across the U.S., helps to reduce the confusion.
“If you can count to 100, you can use the system to shop, cook, eat and, in long-term, feel better.”
“Consumers deserve to get the most nutritional bang for their buck,” says Mike Nugent, NuVal General Manager. “That’s why we developed a food scoring system. Our scores analyze the nutrition facts on food labels boiling them down to a single 1-to-100 score. With 100 being the most nutritious, higher scores mean better nutrition allowing consumers to make at-a-glance nutrition comparisons as they shop.”
Cause for concern
Developed by a team of recognized experts led by Dr. David Katz of the Yale Griffin Prevention Research Center, the NuVal Nutritional Scoring System was created as a direct response to America’s rapidly rising rates of obesity and diabetes in both the adult and child populations.
An independent team of nutrition and medical experts who analyze more than 30 nutrition factors such as vitamin D, omega 3 fatty acids, saturated fat and calories determined food scores, which are displayed directly on shelf price tags in the grocery store. The experts do the research, so consumers can feel better about their food choices.
Knowing the score
The scores are not prescriptive. They do not tell consumers what to buy or eat; they simply reflect the overall nutritional quality of a food, making it as easy for consumers to compare nutrition as they do price.
According to Nugent, no matter their food plan, the scores guide people in shopping for anything from produce and dairy to snacks and packaged goods.
“If you can count to 100, you can use the system to shop, cook, eat and, in long-term, feel better,” he says.
A label and packaging study conducted by psychologists Peter Helfer and Thomas Shultz of McGill University in Montreal (published in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences in 2015) compared NuVal scores with the nutrition facts panel. They concluded that NuVal’s design is the "most usable labeling scheme" on both time and nutrition impact.