A Novel Food Rating System that Assesses the Healthfulness of Foods

The Food Compass algorithm continues to undergo scientific updates, which may slightly change the scores for some foods.

Why Is This Food Rating System Different?

Food rating systems aim to discriminate healthfulness of foods for front-of-package labeling, warning labels, taxation, company ratings, and more. Existing systems often assess relatively few nutrients and ingredients, utilize inconsistent criteria across food categories, and have not incorporated newest science. We have developed a novel system, Food Compass, to incorporate a broader range of food characteristics, novel attributes, and uniform scoring principles, with demonstrated content, convergent, and discriminant validity.

How Are the Scores Created?

To create a score, 54 attributes are scored across 9 health-relevant domains: nutrient ratios, vitamins, minerals, food ingredients, additives, processing, specific lipids, fiber & protein, and phytochemicals. Domain scores are summed to create a final Food Compass Score (FCS), ranging from 1 (least healthy) to 100 (most healthy) for all foods/beverages.

Content validity was confirmed by assessing nutrients, food ingredients, and other characteristics of public health concern; face validity, by assessing FCS for 8,032 foods and beverages reported in NHANES/FNDDS 2015-16; and convergent and discriminant validity, from comparisons to NOVA food processing classification, Health Star Rating (HSR), and Nutri-Score. FCS differentiated food categories and food items well. In many food categories, FCS provided important discrimination of specific foods/beverages as compared to NOVA, HSR, or Nutri-Score.

Figures are adapted from Mozaffarian D, El-Abbadi NH, O’Hearn M, Erndt-Marino J, Masters WA, Jacques, P, Shi P, Blumberg, JB, Micha R. 2021. Food Compass is a nutrient profiling system using expanded characteristics for assessing healthfulness of foods. Nature Food. https://doi.org/10.1038/s43016-021-00381-y.