SKOKIE, Ill. — Topco Associates this morning announced that it will launch a new nutritional rating system developed over the course of two years by an independent panel of 12 scientists and nutrition experts from throughout North America. “Epidemics of obesity and diabetes suggest the toll of poor dietary choices on the public health,” said Dr. David Katz, director of Yale University’s Prevention Research Center and lead scientist on the project, dubbed the Overall Nutritional Quality Index, or ONQI. “Dramatic improvements in health are possible with changes in diet, and the way to a better diet is through one informed choice at a time.” The system uses an algorithm that incorporates 30 separate nutrient factors — including vitamins, fiber, salt and sugar — that will score any item in a supermarket on a scale of 1 to 100. While high scores in the produce department will undoubtedly send a message to shoppers, Katz told SN that the system would also help shoppers quickly and easily compare items in other departments — whether dark chocolate was a healthier choice than milk chocolate, for example, or which breakfast cereal or pasta is the healthiest. The system will be available to shoppers through Topco member supermarkets beginning in the second half of 2008, and Topco plans to use the system in its development of new private-label products as well.
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