Nutrition has always been a priority in my life; ever since childhood and swimming for Australia, food has always been a valuable source of energy and fuel.
Now, as a mother, nutrition is more important than ever, both for my daughter and for myself.
As a nation, our waistlines are growing. Australia has one of the highest rates of obesity in the world with 63% of adults and one in four children being overweight or obese (reference: OECD June 2014 and Australian Health Survey 11/12).
Finding new foods and recipes that are not only nutritious but also tasty and something that my daughter will eat can be challenging.
As parents it can be very confusing to know what we should and shouldn’t be feeding our children especially when there are so many mixed messages targeted directly at us. Not to mention the complicated food labels on packaging!
As shoppers (and parents!) we are busy! So let me introduce you to “The Health Star Rating” system.
It is a method of food labelling that can help take some of the guess work out of shopping and help us to make smarter choices when it comes to buying packaged food.
The Health Star Rating system allows us to quickly compare the nutritional profile of foods within the same category of packaged and processed goods.
For example, we can compare one breakfast cereal with another, or one muesli bar with another. Basically, the more stars on the front of pack, the healthier the choice.
Choosing foods that are higher in positive nutrients and lower in risk nutrients that are linked to obesity and diet-related chronic diseases; (saturated fat, sodium (salt), sugars and energy), will help contribute to a balanced diet and lead to better health.
Now, of course most packaged foods do not contain all of the essential nutrients required for a balanced and healthy diet. Fresh fruit and vegetables and lean meat are always healthier choices, but as busy parents, with young children who are often fussy eaters, sometimes it can be challenging and exhausting when our kids simply do not eat, so the Health Star Rating system at least offers us a quick and easy referral for the times when we are purchasing packaged foods.
So, next time you are at the supermarket:
· Look for the Health Star Ratings on the front of packaged food products.
· Use the Health Stars Ratings to compare similar food products. Remember, the more stars, the healthier the choice.
· Use the nutrient information to choose products that contain less sodium, saturated fat and/or sugars.
For more information visit:
(The number of stars is determined using a calculator designed to assess positive and risk nutrients in food (The Health Star Rating Calculator). The algorithm that drives the calculator was developed in consultation with Food Standards Australia New Zealand and other technical and nutrition experts.)