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Seeing stars could help your health

Picture this, you're at the supermarket, you've been standing in aisle 5 staring at the back of the baked beans tin for the last 5 minutes trying to decipher if it's a healthy choice or not.

 

Wouldn't it be great if there was a quick and easier way to identify the healthiest option at a glance and take the guess work out?

 

Well, now there is…

 

The new Health Star Rating system is a voluntary front-of-pack labelling scheme that you may start to notice on the food packaging on your supermarket shelves. It aims to help shoppers easily compare similar packaged and processed foods to help them make a healthier choice.

 

The Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend that we eat mostly unprocessed, unpackaged foods from the core food groups. But when we do eat packaged foods, it's often difficult to know what to choose. This is where the rating comes in, aimed at giving us a helping hand. 

 

The Health Star Rating system provides a rating of the overall nutritional profile of a given food through the use of a ½ a star to 5 stars rating system -  in short, the more stars the better! Stars are calculated by assessing the amount of energy, saturated fat, sugars, sodium, fruit, vegetable, nut and legume content as well as dietary fibre and protein.

 

This system provides a standardised way to compare similar packaged and processed foods, for example comparing different breakfast cereals. The calculations that are used to determine the Health Star Ratings for each product are specific to the category of food that they fall into, so the Health Star Rating won't help you to compare a muesli bar with chocolate milk. 

 

Just in case you were wondering, manufacturers do not pay to use the system or apply to have the rating put on their products.  And because the system is at this stage voluntary, not all manufactures are going to get on-board.

 

Therefore whilst this system will help you to choose a healthier option, it might not always be available.  In these instances, you might need to refer back to the nutrition information panel on the back of the product. We have some helpful tips and tricks on our Healthy Shopping website that can assist you when this is the case. 

 

More information about the Health Star Rating system is available at: www.healthstarrating.gov.au.