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Aligning nutrient profiling with dietary guidelines: modifying the Nutri-Score algorithm to include whole grains

Lookup NU author(s): Emeritus Professor Chris SealORCiD

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Abstract

Purpose:Whole grains, generally recognised as healthy choices, are not included in most nutrient profiling systems. We tested modifications to the Nutri-Score algorithm to determine whether including whole grains would provide an improved measure of food, and overall diet quality.Methods: The whole-grain content of food, with a minimum cut-point of 25%, was added to the algorithm, following similar methods used to score other health-promoting components such as fibre. We applied and compared the original and the modified Nutri-Score to food composition and dietary intake data from Australia, France, the United Kingdom, and the United States.Results: At the food level, correlations between whole-grain content and food nutritional score were strengthened using the modified algorithm in Australian data, but less so for the other countries. Improvements were greater in grain-specific food groups. The largest shift in Nutri-Score class was from B to A (best score). At the dietary intake level, whole-diet nutritional scores for individuals were calculated and compared against population-specific diet-quality scores. With modifications, correlations with diet-quality scores were improved slightly, suggesting that the modified score better aligns with national dietary guidelines. An inverse linear relationship between whole-diet nutritional score and whole-grain intake was evident, particularly with modifications (lower whole-diet nutritional score indicative of better diet quality).Conclusion: Including a whole-grain component in the Nutri-Score algorithm is justified to align with dietary guidelines and better reflect whole grain as a contributor to improved dietary quality. Further research is required to test alternative algorithms and potentially other nutrient profiling systems.PurposeWhole grains, generally recognised as healthy choices, are not included in most nutrient profiling systems. We tested modifications to the Nutri-Score algorithm to determine whether including whole grains would provide an improved measure of food, and overall diet quality.MethodsThe whole-grain content of food, with a minimum cut-point of 25%, was added to the algorithm, following simi-lar methods used to score other health-promoting components such as fibre. We applied and compared the original and the modified Nutri-Score to food composition and dietary intake data from Australia, France, the United Kingdom, and the United States.ResultsAt the food level, correlations between whole-grain content and food nutritional score were strengthened using the modified algorithm in Australian data, but less so for the other countries. Improvements were greater in grain-specific food groups. The largest shift in Nutri-Score class was from B to A (best score). At the dietary intake level, whole-diet nutritional scores for individuals were calculated and compared against population-specific diet-quality scores. With modifications, correlations with diet-quality scores were improved slightly, suggesting that the modified score better aligns with national dietary guidelines. An inverse linear relationship between whole-diet nutritional score and whole-grain intake was evident, particularly with modifications (lower whole-diet nutritional score indicative of better diet quality).ConclusionIncluding a whole-grain component in the Nutri-Score algorithm is justified to align with dietary guidelines and better reflect whole grain as a contributor to improved dietary quality. Further research is required to test alternative algorithms and potentially other nutrient profiling systems


Publication metadata

Author(s): Kissock KR, Vieux F, Mathias KC, Drewnowski A, Seal CJ, Masset G, Smith J, Mejborn H, McKeown NM, Beck EJ

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: European Journal of Nutrition

Year: 2021

Pages: Epub ahead of print

Online publication date: 24/11/2021

Acceptance date: 18/10/2021

Date deposited: 25/11/2021

ISSN (print): 1436-6207

ISSN (electronic): 1436-6215

Publisher: Springer Nature

URL: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00394-021-02718-6

DOI: 10.1007/s00394-021-02718-6


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Funding

Funder referenceFunder name
Cereal Partners Worldwide
General Mills, Inc.

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