Eating healthier with Nutri-Score?
Nutri-Score is a government food choice logo. Although this will not be officially introduced until 2024, many products can already be found with the logo. The Nutri-Score gives products a score with colors and letters based on their nutritional valueintended to make it easier for consumers to compare products and make healthier choices. This sounds like a nice tool. Yet its implementation is controversial.
How does the Nutri-Score work?
The Nutri-Score is calculated using an algorithm.
A product receives points for:
A product receives negative points for:
- energy (kcal)
- saturated fat
Why the Nutri-Score can be misleading
The Nutri-Score is only intended to compare products within a category. Products with a green A and B may give the impression that they are healthy and could be eaten every day, but it only means that they are a better choice within that category than products with a C, D or E.
For example, fresh cut fries can get an A score, while olive oil gets a C. The preparation method is not taken into account, even though fresh cut fries will normally be fried and sprinkled with salt. Portion size is also not taken into account, but nutritional values are compared per 100g. For example, two pizzas can both have a B score, but one weighs 300g and the other 500g. This can easily be about 400kcal difference between the two pizzas.
Nutri-Score vs. nutritional guidelines
The Nutri-Score does not correspond well with the Dutch nutritional guidelines. Due to the way scores are calculated, there are products that fall within the "Schijf van Vijf" with a C or D score, while there are also products that fall outside the "Schijf van Vijf" with an A or B score. In the algorithm, healthy aspects cancel out unhealthy aspects. If a product contains a lot of sugar or salt, the manufacturer can add some fiber to give it a better score. But if a product contains too much salt, it normally falls outside the "Schijf van Vijf". Some adjustments have already been made to the algorithm to make it fit a little better. But because it is a European logo, based on French eating habits and guidelines, it is difficult to adjust the algorithm.
Learn more about nutrition?
When you do my coaching program, you get access to an online knowledge base for 2 years, where you can learn more about nutrition, among other things. During the coaching sessions we can look at your diet together and I can help you make adjustments to it that will promote your health.
All in all, the Nutri-Score says little about what a healthy diet looks like, but it can be useful if you want to compare processed products from the same product group. Hopefully it will be adjusted so that it will better align with the Dutch nutritional guidelines.