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J Nutr Educ Behav. 2007 Mar-Apr;39(2 Suppl):S25-31.

Developing ratings for food products: lessons learned from media rating systems.

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Department of Communication, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721, USA.


Children regularly consume low-nutrient, high-calorie food that is not consistent with a healthful diet, contributing to an increasing epidemic of overweight and obesity. Among the multiple causes of this problem is the food industry's emphasis on marketing calorie-dense food products to children. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) has recommended that industry adopt a uniform system of simplified food ratings to convey the nutritional qualities of food in a manner that is understandable and appealing to children and youth. This report analyzes the need for such a system in a food marketing environment that increasingly identifies healthful products for the consumer in inconsistent fashion. It considers evidence regarding current usage of food labeling and draws parallels with media rating systems in discussing the prospects for a uniform food rating system that would accomplish the IOM's objective.

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