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Authors

  1. Drewnowski, Adam PhD

Abstract

Nutrient profiling of foods is defined as the science of categorizing foods based on their nutrient composition. Nutrient profiles, based on some combination of key nutrients relative to calories, can have multiple applications. For health professionals, identifying nutrient-dense foods using nutrient profiling can be a valuable tool for consumer education and dietary guidance. The 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans referred specifically to nutrient density as a way to help consumers identify the most nutrient-rich foods within and among food groups. For regulatory agencies, nutrient profiles can be the basis for disallowing nutrition or health claims and for regulating advertising to children. The European Union has adopted nutrient profiling as the basis for regulating nutrition and health claims. Whereas the US approach has emphasized positive nutrients, the European approach has focused squarely on the foods' content of fats, trans-fats, sugars, and sodium. As a result, the development of competing nutrient profiles by researchers, regulatory agencies, and the food industry in the European Union and the United States has been marked by different priorities, pressures, and concerns. However, the development of nutrient profiles needs to follow specific science-driven rules. These include the selection of reference nutrients and reference amounts, the creation of an appropriate algorithm for calculating nutrient quality scores, and the validation of the chosen scheme against objective measures of a healthy diet. Additional studies need to test the usefulness of the concept among nutrition professionals and among consumers