The Health Star Rating provides an easy way to compare similar packaged food, helping you make healthier choices by highlighting the better option within a packaged product type. The system is designed to take the guesswork out of reading food labels. Health Star Ratings will help you quickly and easily compare the nutritional profile of similar packaged foods to help you make informed, healthier choices when shopping. Health Star Ratings can now be displayed on fresh fruit and vegetables. However not all fresh fruit and vegetables are packaged and can easily display their 5 stars. This doesn’t mean they are not healthy. In fact, many healthy fresh foods may not display or have Health Star Ratings. Remember, the Health Star Ratings are only one tool to assist you in following a healthy diet.
As a nation, our waistlines are growing. Today, Australia has one of the highest rates of obesity in the world – in 2017-18, 67% of adult Australians and 25% of children aged 2-17 were overweight or obese (ABS, 2017-18 National Health Survey).
Maintaining a healthy weight, improving the intake of beneficial nutrients and reducing the intake of risk nutrients is important for everyone. This can help you to live longer, get more out of life and reduce your chances of developing chronic diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers. What we eat and drink is a large determinant of our health.
We know that you probably would have already decided on your shopping list before going to the supermarket – this is where dietary advice like the Australian Dietary Guidelines comes in handy.
Most products carry a Nutrition Information Panel, which provides important information about the contents of the food. Supermarkets provide many options, but we don’t always have the time to fully understand the choices available.
Eating a healthy, balanced diet
The Australian Dietary Guidelines provide evidence-based advice on how to follow a healthy diet.
You should include a variety of foods from each of the following five food groups every day:
- vegetables and legumes/beans
- grain (cereal) foods, mostly wholegrain and/or high cereal fibre varieties
- lean meats and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds
- milk, yoghurt, cheese and/or alternatives, mostly reduced fat.
Products high in added sugars, sodium and saturated fat are best avoided. And remember that water is the best beverage option available.
For more information on choosing food to maintain a balanced diet, visit the Eat for Health website.
How the Health Star Rating system fits in
You can make healthier choices by using the Health Star Rating system to quickly and easily compare the nutritional profile of similar packaged products. Next time you go shopping:
- look for the Health Star Ratings on the front of packaged food products and use them to compare between similar products. Remember, the more stars, the healthier the choice.
- use additional nutrient information to choose products that contain less energy, sodium, saturated fat and/or sugars.
- remember fresh fruit and vegetables are 5 star foods but may not display their health star rating or be packaged.