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Posted Jul 12 2009 9:52pm

Last week while grocery shopping, a brochure caught my eye. It was for something called NuVal which sounds like some type of gimmicky product. After several days, I finally got around to reading it.

What is NuVal? Apparently, it is a new scoring system for foods. Currently, it is debuting at the stores Price Chopper, HyVee, and Meijer. The premise of the scoring system is to rate the health of food products based on a scale of 1-100, 1 having the least nutrition and 100 the most nutrition. The idea is that this simple system (like an at-a-glance) will help enable consumers to make informed decisions about the foods they buy as well as give an ability to compare products based on price and nutrition.

The NuVal scoring system is based on the Overall Nutritional Quality Index ( ONQI ) algorithm which considers over 30 nutrients and takes into account trans fats, quality of macronutrients, and the density of food products. The development of the NuVal system itself is headed by Dr. David Katz, an Associate Professor of Public Health at Yale University School of Medicine, along with 12 other experts in medicine, nutrition, and public health. Their goal is to havea NuVal score for the over 50,000 food products in an average store. One nice thing is that this is independently funded, so there is no promotion by manufacturers or other food companies.

In general, I think this is an interesting approach to take, much better than displaying calories on menus, billboards, etc. In the " Nutritional Insights" section of the website, it emphasizes that there are no "good" or "bad" NuVal scores--that it's just an objective tool. It makes the point that you don't have to buy the highest NuVal score, but rather that you may simply choose a product because you love it. That's actually an important statement for me to read as I have a tendency to base my food choices on the highest value of nutrition versus just taste. (post here on health versus instinct )

It will be interesting to see how this works and whether consumers catch on to using this system. There does seem to be more of an educational aspect here than just good calories and bad calories.

What is your opinion? Could this be a valuable tool for consumers and their food choices? Would/will you use this system?

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