App aids healthier food choices
Popular phone app FoodSwitch, which allows you to scan the barcodes of food products to get information on the nutrients they contain and healthier alternatives, is now even more helpful.
The free health app, developed by the George Institute for Global Health and Bupa Australia, now incorporates Health Star Ratings along with three other new features:
- SugarSwitch lists products with less total sugar than the scanned item.
- EnergySwitch suggests foods with lower kilojoules to help manage energy intake.
- FatSwitch lists products with a lower amount of saturated fat, helping tackle high cholesterol.
Professor Bruce Neal of The George Institute and The University of Sydney said the new features give Australians more ways to make healthier food choices, and with added Health Star Rating labelling people can confidently make choices based on the industry standard.
"Poor diet is the leading cause of ill health in Australia, a precursor to the big killers like heart disease, stroke and diabetes," he said. "The introduction of the Health Star Rating system is a significant milestone in the fight against this problem and, like FoodSwitch, helps people to take control of their health."
While a number of food companies have started rolling out health food stars across their products – we've already seen stars on foods from Monster Foods, Mayvers, Sanitarium, SPC Ardmona, Uncle Tobys's, Coles and Woolworths – there are some notable absences.
To give the system the best shot at success we'd like to see all food companies get on board. But in the meantime, the FoodSwitch app is a great mobile tool for comparing the healthiness of packaged foods within any product category.
The updated iOS app can be downloaded from the App Store. Users can also access FoodSwitch technology online at the new FoodSwitch website. An Android update with the same expansion of features is expected next month.