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The acting Surgeon General, Rear Adm. Steven K. Galson, M.D., M.P.H., held up Hannaford Supermarkets’ well-publicized “Guiding Stars” nutrition-rating system as an effective way to change consumer behavior, and as the gold standard example of how to get Americans back to healthy eating, in his opening remarks this morning at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Weight of the Nation conference taking place through July 29 in Washington.
The Guiding Stars contingent at the conference consists of Tracy Fox, president of Food, Nutrition & Policy Consultants, LLC, and Lori Kaley, manager of the Public Health Programs at the University of Southern Maine’s Muskie School of Public Service, who are members of the program’s Scientific Advisory Panel, and Jim McBride, one of the founding members of the program and director of information & systems for Scarborough, Maine-based Guiding Stars Licensing Co. McBride will take part in a Weight of the Nation panel discussion today from 4:15 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Guiding Stars, first introduced at Hannaford stores in September 2006 and since expanded to other Delhaize banners as well as a school system and university in Maine, is a simple, at-a-glance tool that enables shoppers to quickly identify and choose foods that offer the most nutrition for the calories. The program employs a proprietary algorithm grounded in evidence-based science and the most current guidelines and recommendations of national and international health organizations such as the FDA and USDA.
The system credits all edible foods based on the presence of vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber and whole grains, and debits for the presence of trans fat, saturated fats, cholesterol, added sugars and added sodium. Food items are then given zero, one, two or three stars: one star means good nutritional value; two stars, better nutritional value; and three stars, the best nutritional value.