The study of categorizing or rating foods based on their nutritional makeup in order to improve health and avoid disease is known as nutrient profiling. Nutrient profiling is commonly used in the development of nutritional grading systems to assist customers in identifying healthy meals.
Nutritional profiling seeks to rate foods based on their nutritional content, with a focus on food quality rather than food quantity. Individuals who consume high-scoring foods are more likely to alter their eating habits. When it comes to displaying nutritional facts, simplicity is essential.
Nutrient-profiling-based systems seek to educate consumers about the total nutritional quality that constitutes a good or bad meal choice by concentrating on food quality rather than quantity.
Nutrient profiling is usually characterized as the “science of categorizing foods based on their nutritional content” . It is commonly used to categorize foods (using words, graphics, or numbers) based on either the nutrient levels in the food (for example, ‘high fat,’ ‘low fat,’ ‘source of fiber,’ ‘energy-dense and nutrient-poor,’ or the effects of consuming the food on a person’s health (for example, ‘healthy,’ ‘healthier option,’ ‘less healthy,’ ‘good for your heart’).
It is now being utilized in a variety of nutrition policies throughout the world, and the number of alternative nutrient-profiling models has grown significantly in recent years. The most frequent application of nutrient profiling is in nutrition signposting programs designed to help customers make healthier food choices.
Food Components Involved in Nutrient Profiling
The nutrients used in nutrition profiles are typically determined by the research linking nutrient intakes to public health consequences. As a result, nutrients linked with an increased risk of chronic illness, such as salt, sugar, saturated fat, and trans-fat, are constantly present.
Furthermore, nutrients that are beneficial to human health, such as protein and dietary fiber, may be considered in order to offer a full picture of the nutritional quality of foods.
In addition to nutrients, food components such as fruits, nuts, legumes, and food additives (such as sweeteners) may be included in nutritional profiling depending on the dietary recommendations.
Nutrient profiling can be used for a variety of purposes. It is frequently used in food labeling systems to assist customers in better understanding the nutritional makeup of foods and identifying items that are healthier alternatives. It may also be utilized to put the guidelines on food marketing to youngsters into action.
A few examples are:
- In the United Kingdom, the traffic light labeling system rates a food product’s fat, saturated fat, sugar, and salt content by assigning the colors green, amber, and red based on the content levels. Furthermore, food products that surpass defined amounts of fat, salt, and sugar cannot be marketed in television programs aimed at children under the age of 16.
- In Australia, the Health Star Rating system assigns a rating of 1/2 to 5 stars to food items based on their nutritional content (energy, saturated fat, sugar, salt, and, in certain cases, protein, calcium, and dietary fiber) and ingredient information (i.e. fruits, vegetables, nuts, and legumes). The more stars there are, the better the option.
- The Nutrition Labelling Scheme in Hong Kong regulates nutrition labeling and nutrition claims for common prepared goods. It mandates energy and seven specific nutrients to be disclosed on food labels, as well as regulating nutrition claims (such as reduced-fat, high calcium) to help customers make educated food choices.
Nutrient profiling does not cover all elements of nutrition, diet, and health but it is a useful technique to employ in diet-improvement programs. Nutrient profile models define foods based on their nutrient content, and the data may be used to assist people to follow dietary recommendations more easily.