BALANCED DIET: Dietitian Fiona Graham with a box of cereal illustrating the new health star rating. The new health star rating scheme converts complex nutrition panels to simple, at-a-glance labels. The more stars you see, the healthier the food. Photo: Mike Knott / NewsMail
BALANCED DIET: Dietitian Fiona Graham with a box of cereal illustrating the new health star rating. The new health star rating scheme converts complex nutrition panels to simple, at-a-glance labels. The more stars you see, the healthier the food. Photo: Mike Knott / NewsMail Mike Knott

Health star ratings headed for supermarket shelves

HEALTH Star ratings will soon be displayed across the majority of breakfast cereals as Kellogg's announces it too will provide the ratings on its 37 products.

While Assistant Minister for Health Fiona Nash has welcomed the news, dietician's including Bundaberg's Fiona Graham have reservations about the growing new system.

"I've looked on the DAA (Dietetics Association of Australia) website, and they also have some reservations about it not being the magic bullet for dealing with the bigger health issue of obesity," Ms Graham said.

"It's another guide but we have the Heart Foundation Tick guide as well and have other guides available.

"It's still not really dealing with the big issues of obesity that we have to deal with.

"I think it is a positive thing, but it's a small part of our obesity issue; I don't think it's going to be ground-breaking."

Ms Graham said the Health Star rating system was also not compulsory and brands could choose which of their products they rated.

"Some of the food won't have a very positive health star rating so the chances are, they probably won't get on board," Ms Graham said.

"I guess it's a help, but it's not the be all and end all when it comes to dealing with healthy eating in the community."

Ms Graham further questioned how the rating would be monitored.

"The National Heart Foundation do request that foods are tested (for Heart Foundation Tick) and they are randomly checked to ensure they fit into the criteria, I'm not sure what the system is around this new system with checking the health ratings and who is going to monitor that," she said.

Ms Nash said the rating system would be great for time poor parents.

"(they) can make quick, informed choices on which breakfast cereal to buy without taking precious time reading labels," Ms Nash said.

BALANCED DIET: Dietitian Fiona Graham with a box of cereal illustrating the new health star rating. The new health star rating scheme converts complex nutrition panels to simple, at-a-glance labels. The more stars you see, the healthier the food. Photo: Mike Knott / NewsMail
BALANCED DIET: Dietitian Fiona Graham with a box of cereal illustrating the new health star rating. The new health star rating scheme converts complex nutrition panels to simple, at-a-glance labels. The more stars you see, the healthier the food. Photo: Mike Knott / NewsMail Mike Knott

Ms Graham agreed there was a lot on supermarket shelves for parents and consumers to navigate through.

"If it does help them hone in a little faster on something when they're busy shopping, that can be a good thing," she said.

"And if it's an easy guide and we're familiar with the five-star rating with our white goods with energy ratings, it might be a system that catches on quite well."

Ms Graham said cereal was a good start but said snack foods may be better serviced by the Health Star rating system.

"I guess they do try to start with what are considered the core foods and the main eating things," she said.

"Focusing on a good breakfast is a good start to the day.

"I spend a lot of my time encouraging people to eat breakfast that in itself is an issue."

The first Kellogg's cereals to carry Health Star ratings will be in stores from June, with all Kellogg's cereals carrying Health Stars by the end of 2015.

Other cereal companies adopting Health Stars include Monster Health Foods Company, Food for Health, Goodness Superfoods, Freedom Foods, Greens General Foods (Lowan Wholefoods), Sanitarium, Coles home brand, Woolworths' Macro brand and Nestle/Uncle Toby's.

Cereals recommended by dietician Fiona Graham

Kids

  • Sanitarium Weet-Bix

Adults

  • Sanitarium Weet-Bix
  • Uncle Toby's Plus muesli
  • Kellogg's Sustain
  • Kellogg's Just Right


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