Dana Thomson, Health Promotion Officer at healthAbility in Eltham, has kindly agreed to provide this website with regular notes on nutrition topics. Dana is a trained public health dietitian (accredited with the Dietitians Association of Australia). In contrast to clinical or community dietitians who mostly see patients/clients or run nutrition education groups, her objectives are to support access, affordability and acceptability of healthier food for the whole population. As a Health Promotion Officer at healthAbility in Eltham, she works as part of a team to improve food supply and promote healthier eating across Nillumbik.
Health Star Ratings
- Health Star Ratings are a front-of-pack labelling system intended for processed foods only, not fresh wholefoods.
- Hopefully you don’t eat too much processed food. But many people do. Did you know that we spend almost 60% of our budgets on ‘discretionary foods’, which are typically heavily processed? These foods also make up 35% of our total food intake in terms of energy. The Health Star Ratings may help you choose healthier options.
- Products are assigned a rating from ½ a star to 5 stars.
- Currently, you can only compare within food categories. The calculations are different depending on the category you choose. For example, you can’t compare a dairy product rating with a breakfast cereal rating.
- The ratings are currently optional for food manufacturers to include on their labels. Many in the food industry are not opting in to this scheme if their products score poorly. However, you can download the Food Switch App (Android, iOS) and scan almost any product to obtain its rating.
- Use the ratings in conjunction with other food information like dietary guidelines, the ingredients list, and the nutrition information panel. If you would like to learn more, healthAbility also runs supermarket tours to help people make sense of food labels.
- The system is currently under a 5 year review and taking public submissions. If you would like help writing a submission, Email Dana.
- For more information: read the government website; watch this video; read this blog; or read this critique.
[Editor’s note: Choice magazine are running a campaign entitled Make Health Stars work for you.]