Author Topic: NuVal - New nutrition information guide  (Read 1321 times)

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Offline kakaydin

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NuVal - New nutrition information guide
« on: April 26, 2012, 05:27:19 PM »
I stumbled upon this new nutritional guide that is apparently being introduced in certain supermarkets in the US.  It's called NuVal (http://www.nuval.com/How), and purports to substitute the data-dense traditional food nutrition labels with a single number to indicate a food's nutritional "score"- between 1 and 100, higher being better.

A food's nutritional score is derived from an algorithm that factors contents like fiber, vitamins/minerals, cholesterol and fat content.  "Good" contents increase the score, while "bad" stuff decreases it.

At face value, this seems like a pretty good idea.  If done correctly, grocery shoppers will have a much simpler tool for discriminating between healthy and unhealthy choices, making it more likely to be used.  As the NuVal website suggests, the scoring system could function in much the same way as "eat this, not that" (http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/eat-this-not-that), except it would be more versatile as a general nutritional comparison between any two items.

That being said, there are a couple red flags here.  The organization producing NuVal is led by David Katz, M.D., who in the past has drawn criticism from Dr. Novella and others for his accommodating views on certain CAM issues (see http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/some-encouraging-backlash-against-nonsense/).  Furthermore, the algorithm for determining a food's nutritional score is proprietary and "patent-pending", so there is currently no way to evaluate its principles and weaknesses.

Any thoughts on how useful the NuVal system will be or on how its development and implementation are being handled?
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Offline Cognoscento

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Re: NuVal - New nutrition information guide
« Reply #1 on: April 26, 2012, 05:36:14 PM »
It would sure make maintaining a diet simpler. You could say I'm not going to exceed 2000 calories/ day  and consume a weekly avg nuval score of 80 or higher.  I like it.
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Offline Guillermo

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Re: NuVal - New nutrition information guide
« Reply #2 on: April 26, 2012, 05:39:59 PM »
It's not going to pick up. Most companies will probably not use that at all, unless required by law.

Also, I fear that the algorithm can be played by adding good stuff to the meals to increase the score, while still having the same amount of bad stuff in it.
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Offline Plastiq

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Re: NuVal - New nutrition information guide
« Reply #3 on: April 26, 2012, 05:51:45 PM »
It looks ridiculously oversimplified.

Offline kakaydin

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Re: NuVal - New nutrition information guide
« Reply #4 on: April 26, 2012, 08:58:07 PM »
@Guillermo

Good point.  If being high in certain vitamins significantly boosts a food's score, then the system could be gamed easily.  Although, without the algorithm, it would be difficult to determine how to manipulate the score, or if doing so is even realistic.

Given that malnutrition really isn't a problem in developed countries, I would hope that calorie-count is the dominant factor.  Of course, calories are already listed on the packaging, so the NuVal score must account for other significant health factors to be of any use.  Sodium content comes to mind.
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Offline LumpyFish

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Re: NuVal - New nutrition information guide
« Reply #5 on: April 27, 2012, 08:00:22 AM »
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My local grocery store uses it.

I don't pay attention to it much as I know what is healthy and what is not.  But I can see how it might be useful to at least some people- if someoen is going to buy a can of tomato soup for example and they see three options with NuVal scores 35, 40 and 60, then it might help them to pick the one that has a score of 60.

Now, I don't really know exactly what it means to havea NuVal score of 60, but if it is based on sound research and principle, then it should be healthier than the other options.



The problem with health related stuff is people can read about how spinach is super healthy or how this is good or how better NuVal scores are healthier, but adding a cup of spinach into your daily diet is not going to do squat if you are otherwise making very unhealthy decisions.