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Analysing the use of the Australian Health Star Rating system by level of food processing.
Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2018 12 13; 15(1):128.IJ

Abstract

BACKGROUND

The consumption of ultra-processed foods is associated with diminished dietary quality and adverse health outcomes. The Australian Health Star Rating (HSR) is a nutrient-based front-of-pack (FOP) labelling system that assesses the 'healthiness' of foods on a scale of 0.5 to 5 stars based on their content of 'risk' and 'positive' nutrients. This study aimed to analyse the use of health stars on new packaged food products entering the Australian marketplace by level of food processing.

METHODS

The Mintel Global New Product Database (GNPD) was searched to identify the number of stars displayed on the labels of all new packaged food products participating in the HSR system released into the Australian retail food supply between 27 June 2014 (the endorsement date) and 30 June 2017. Products were categorised by the four NOVA food processing categories: unprocessed and minimally processed (MP), processed culinary ingredients (PCI), processed (P), and ultra-processed (UP), and the distribution of the star ratings within each category was compared and analysed.

RESULTS

The majority of new food products displaying an HSR were UP (74.4%), followed by MP (12.5%), P (11.6%), and PCI (1.5%). The median HSR of MP products (4.5) was significantly higher than the median of P (4) and UP products (3.5) (all p < 0.05). In all NOVA categories HSR profiles were distributed towards higher star ratings, and the majority (77%) of UP products displayed an HSR ≥ 2.5.

CONCLUSIONS

The HSR is being displayed on a substantial proportion of newly released UP foods. Technical weaknesses, design flaws and governance limitations with the HSR system are resulting in 3 out of 4 instances of these UP foods displaying at least 2.5 so-called 'health' stars. These findings add further evidence to concerns that the HSR system, in its current form, is misrepresenting the healthiness of new packaged food products and creating a risk for behavioural nutrition.

Authors+Show Affiliations

School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition (IPAN), Deakin University, 221 Burwood Highway, Burwood, VIC, 3125, Australia. sdickie@deakin.edu.au.School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition (IPAN), Deakin University, 221 Burwood Highway, Burwood, VIC, 3125, Australia.School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition (IPAN), Deakin University, 221 Burwood Highway, Burwood, VIC, 3125, Australia.

Pub Type(s)

Journal Article

Language

eng

PubMed ID

30545373

Citation

Dickie, Sarah, et al. "Analysing the Use of the Australian Health Star Rating System By Level of Food Processing." The International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, vol. 15, no. 1, 2018, p. 128.
Dickie S, Woods JL, Lawrence M. Analysing the use of the Australian Health Star Rating system by level of food processing. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2018;15(1):128.
Dickie, S., Woods, J. L., & Lawrence, M. (2018). Analysing the use of the Australian Health Star Rating system by level of food processing. The International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 15(1), 128. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12966-018-0760-7
Dickie S, Woods JL, Lawrence M. Analysing the Use of the Australian Health Star Rating System By Level of Food Processing. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2018 12 13;15(1):128. PubMed PMID: 30545373.
* Article titles in AMA citation format should be in sentence-case
TY - JOUR T1 - Analysing the use of the Australian Health Star Rating system by level of food processing. AU - Dickie,Sarah, AU - Woods,Julie L, AU - Lawrence,Mark, Y1 - 2018/12/13/ PY - 2018/05/02/received PY - 2018/12/05/accepted PY - 2018/12/15/entrez PY - 2018/12/14/pubmed PY - 2019/2/20/medline KW - Behavioural nutrition KW - Dietary guidelines KW - Food processing KW - Food reformulation KW - Front-of-pack labelling KW - Health star rating KW - NOVA KW - Nutrient profiling KW - Ultra-processed food SP - 128 EP - 128 JF - The international journal of behavioral nutrition and physical activity JO - Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act VL - 15 IS - 1 N2 - BACKGROUND: The consumption of ultra-processed foods is associated with diminished dietary quality and adverse health outcomes. The Australian Health Star Rating (HSR) is a nutrient-based front-of-pack (FOP) labelling system that assesses the 'healthiness' of foods on a scale of 0.5 to 5 stars based on their content of 'risk' and 'positive' nutrients. This study aimed to analyse the use of health stars on new packaged food products entering the Australian marketplace by level of food processing. METHODS: The Mintel Global New Product Database (GNPD) was searched to identify the number of stars displayed on the labels of all new packaged food products participating in the HSR system released into the Australian retail food supply between 27 June 2014 (the endorsement date) and 30 June 2017. Products were categorised by the four NOVA food processing categories: unprocessed and minimally processed (MP), processed culinary ingredients (PCI), processed (P), and ultra-processed (UP), and the distribution of the star ratings within each category was compared and analysed. RESULTS: The majority of new food products displaying an HSR were UP (74.4%), followed by MP (12.5%), P (11.6%), and PCI (1.5%). The median HSR of MP products (4.5) was significantly higher than the median of P (4) and UP products (3.5) (all p < 0.05). In all NOVA categories HSR profiles were distributed towards higher star ratings, and the majority (77%) of UP products displayed an HSR ≥ 2.5. CONCLUSIONS: The HSR is being displayed on a substantial proportion of newly released UP foods. Technical weaknesses, design flaws and governance limitations with the HSR system are resulting in 3 out of 4 instances of these UP foods displaying at least 2.5 so-called 'health' stars. These findings add further evidence to concerns that the HSR system, in its current form, is misrepresenting the healthiness of new packaged food products and creating a risk for behavioural nutrition. SN - 1479-5868 UR - https://www.unboundmedicine.com/medline/citation/30545373/Analysing_the_use_of_the_Australian_Health_Star_Rating_system_by_level_of_food_processing_ L2 - https://ijbnpa.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12966-018-0760-7 DB - PRIME DP - Unbound Medicine ER -