Nutrition Profiling Index Scores

How did we come up with the nutrition scores?
Trying to determine which items are nutritious at fast food restaurants can be a challenge. Nutrition information is not always readily available in restaurants and when it is, there are still many varieties of menu items and meal combinations. Some restaurants label particular items as "low fat" or "lighter options," but this does not always mean they are healthy choices. In the current fast food environment, it can be hard to figure out what is actually nutritious.

There are already many nutrition profiling systems being used around the world. After thoroughly reviewing them all, we adapted a system from the Nutrition Profiling model (NP) currently used by the UK's Office of Communications (OFCOM) to identify nutritious foods that are appropriate to advertise to children on television. It provides an overall nutrition score for a product based on its total calories and mix of healthy and unhealthy ingredients (like sugar, sodium, and fiber). This model has several advantages over other scoring systems: 1) It was developed by nutrition researchers at Oxford University independent of industry funding, 2) The calculations behind the scoring system are available to the public, and 3) It is consistent with the judgment of professional nutritionists and existing nutrition science.   

What do the scores mean?
The scores that fast food items received using our model allow you to see an item's nutrition score relative to others, rather than simply designating it as "good" or "bad."

Since the original NP model scores are not intuitively obvious (they range from 34 to -15, with higher scores indicating worse nutrition), we converted the scores into a simpler format. For this we used the following mathematical equation: Our Score= (-2) * NP score + 70, which produces a score from 0 (poorest nutritional quality) to 100 (highest nutritional quality) that is easy to interpret and compare. 

Were there other methods used to evaluate nutrition quality?
We also looked at the calories and sodium, as well as fat, saturated fat, trans fat, sugar, protein, and fiber per menu item or serving separately to highlight any differences in individual nutrients. See the FAQ page for information about how nutrient limits for calories, sodium, and saturated fat content were determined

For more detailed information, please see the Fast Food FACTS Report: Introduction, Methods, Results, and Conclusions.

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