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Measuring the Healthiness of the Packaged Food Supply in Australia


Crino, Michelle; Sacks, Gary; Dunford, Elizabeth K.; Trieu, Kathy; Webster, Jacqueline L.; Vandevijvere, Stefanie; Swinburn, Boyd; Wu, Jason H. Y.; & Neal, Bruce C. (2018). Measuring the Healthiness of the Packaged Food Supply in Australia. Nutrients, 10(6), 702. PMCID: PMC6024847


The increasing availability of packaged foods plays a key role in nutritional transition. This study examined the healthiness of the Australian packaged food supply using a range of different metrics; 40,664 packaged products from The George Institute's FoodSwitch database were included. Median and interquartile range (IQR) were determined for each measure of nutrient composition; mean and standard deviation (SD) for the measure based upon Health Star Rating (HSR); and proportions (%) for the measures based upon products with a higher HSR, classification of foods as either core or discretionary, extent of processing and proportions of foods that met reformulation targets for sodium, saturated fat and total sugars. Overall median (IQR) values were 1093 (1256) kJ/100 g for energy, 1.7 (6.3) g/100 g for saturated fat, 5.3 (21.4) g/100 g for total sugars, 163 (423) g/100 g for sodium and 50 (100) g or mL for serving size. Overall mean (SD) HSR was 2.8 (1.4), proportion with HSR < 3.5 was 61.8%, proportion of foods defined as discretionary was 53.0% and proportion of foods defined as highly processed was 60.5%. There were sodium targets set for 21,382/40,664 (53%) foods and achieved for 14,126/40,664 (35%). Corresponding figures for saturated fat were 328/40,664 (0.8%) and 130/40,664 (0.3%). Nutrient profiling, dietary guidelines and the extent of food processing provided comparable assessments of the nutritional quality of Australia's packaged food supply. Individual measures of nutrient composition did not, but may be of value for identifying specific foods of concern.


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Journal Article

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Crino, Michelle
Sacks, Gary
Dunford, Elizabeth K.
Trieu, Kathy
Webster, Jacqueline L.
Vandevijvere, Stefanie
Swinburn, Boyd
Wu, Jason H. Y.
Neal, Bruce C.