Test Proves that Nutrition Sells

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Well whoda thunk it- when you give people information they make better choices. Hannaford, a Belgian owned grocery store in Maine, developed the "guiding stars" rating system, a scale from zero to three stars based on nutritional value. A simple and straightforward system using guidelines from an advisory board that found many so-called healthy products got no stars because of too much sugar. They used data from a product's nutrition facts panel and the ingredients list, and credited a food for having vitamins and minerals, fiber and whole grains. The system took points away for trans fats, saturated fats, cholesterol, added sugars and added sodium.

Sales of products like lean beef with stars increased by as much as 7%, while whole milk, with no stars, declined by 4%. hannaford2.jpg
Alan Zale for The New York Times

According to the New York Times: Sales of fruits and vegetables remained about the same as they did before the ratings were introduced. All fresh produce received stars.

"I have to say, I'm thrilled," said Lisa A. Sutherland, assistant professor of pediatrics and a nutrition scientist at Dartmouth Medical School, who was part of an advisory panel that devised Hannaford's system. "They were pretty much what I would have expected with an objective system that wasn't designed to promote or negate one food or another."

"This is probably positive news," said Kelly D. Brownell, director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale, who said he would need to see more data before reaching a conclusion. "I'm surprised that providing such little information would make a difference in consumer behavior, but I'm delighted that it does."

We like the idea that instead of having to pore over all of the nutritional labels, they have distilled it down to such a simple, comprehensible system. Add a simple food miles label as well and people will have an easier time making intelligent choices. ::New York Times

Tags: Maine

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