Public Health Nutrition

Research Paper

Testing nutrient profile models using data from a survey of nutrition professionals

Peter Scarborougha1 c1, Anna Boxera1, Mike Raynera1 and Lynn Stockleya1

a1 British Heart Foundation Health Promotion Research Group, Department of Public Health, University of Oxford, Old Road Campus, Headington, Oxford OX3 7LF, UK


Objective To compare nutrient profile models with a standard ranking of 120 foods.

Design Over 700 nutrition professionals were asked to categorise 120 foods into one of six positions on the basis of their healthiness. These categorisations were used to produce a standard ranking of the 120 foods. The standard ranking was compared with the results of applying eight different nutrient profile models to the 120 foods: Models SSCg3d and WXYfm developed for the UK Food Standards Agency, the Nutritious Food Index, the Ratio of Recommended to Restricted nutrients, the Naturally Nutrient Rich score, the Australian Heart Foundation's Tick scheme, the American Heart Association's heart-check mark and the Netherlands tripartite classification model for foods. Rank correlation was assessed for continuous models, and dependence was assessed for categorical models.

Results The continuous models each showed good correlation with the standard ranking (Spearman's ρ = 0.6–0.8). The categorical models achieved high χ2 results, indicating a high level of dependence between the nutrition professionals' and the models' categorisations (P < 0.001). Models SSCg3d and WXYfm achieved higher scores than the other models, implying a greater agreement with the standard ranking of foods.

Conclusions The results suggest that Models SSCg3d and WXYfm rank and categorise foods in accordance with the views of nutrition professionals.

(Received July 04 2006)

(Accepted November 21 2006)


c1 *Corresponding author: Email