Study highlights effect of Guiding Stars in influencing healthier supermarket food purchases
Guiding Stars, the world’s first storewide nutrition navigation system, today announced that new research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows Guiding Stars had a positive influence on food purchasing decisions after the implementation of the zero-to-three star rating system and that these changes continue to be significant in achieving healthier food choices in the supermarket. Guiding Stars is a simple, at-a-glance tool that allows consumers to quickly identify and choose foods that offer the most nutrition for the calories. It was born from extensive customer research that clearly revealed a desire to live healthier lifestyles, but showed confusion about how to digest the volume and complexity of the nutrition-related information available to them in the media, in advertisements and on food packaging.
The study was conducted by a group of scientists led by Lisa Sutherland, Ph.D of Dartmouth College along with Leslie Fischer, Ph.D of the University of North Carolina and Lori Kaley of the University of Southern Maine’s Muskie School, all Guiding Stars Scientific Advisory Panel members at the time the research was undertaken. The researchers examined the effects of Guiding Stars on consumer food and beverage choices in the study titled, “Guiding Stars: The effect of a nutrition navigation program on consumer purchases at the supermarket.”
“With increasing rates of chronic diseases and poor diet quality in the United States, we were pleased to find the Guiding Stars program was associated with significant positive changes in consumer purchasing behavior,” said Lisa Sutherland, lead author of the study. “The choices consumers make in the supermarket can have a direct effect on their health and wellness, and we found that after the Guiding Stars nutrition rating system was implemented, the overall purchasing of foods with stars, or those rated the most nutritious, significantly increased. With time as a considerable barrier for many Americans when shopping, we believe that the program makes it easier for consumers to quickly identify the more nutritious options in the supermarket.”
Guiding Stars rates all edible products in the store – regardless of price, brand, or manufacturer, and utilizes an evidence-based algorithm that is grounded in the most current dietary guidelines and recommendations of leading national and international health organizations, such as the US Food and Drug Administration, the US Department of Agriculture, the US Health & Human Services, the National Academy of Sciences, and the World Health Organization. The more nutritional value a food has, the more Guiding Stars it receives on a scale of zero to three. One Guiding Star indicates good nutritional value; two Guiding Stars, better nutritional value; three Guiding Stars, the best nutritional value.
The study authors utilized purchasing data from 2006 to 2008 obtained from Hannaford Supermarkets, which have 168 stores located in northern New England and New York. They examined the data before Guiding Stars was introduced and one and two years after it was implemented. In order to understand the program’s impact on specific grocery categories, ready-to-eat cereal was examined as a case study. Study findings revealed that the purchasing of star-rated cereals significantly increased at one-year and continued to increase in year-two. “Although we did not measure individual diet, the purchasing of low-sugar, high-fiber cereals increased greatly after program implementation. This finding is of particular importance to our understanding the potential impact of such programs on consumer diet,” Sutherland said.
“We are thrilled to see this very important research demonstrating the short- and long-term impact of Guiding Stars” said Betts FitzGerald, managing director of Guiding Stars Licensing Company. “The design of the Guiding Stars program provides a significant opportunity to impact not only the health of individuals, but public health as well.”
About Guiding Stars Licensing Co.
Since 2006, Guiding Stars has been leading the way in helping consumers make nutritious choices. The Guiding Stars program is a simple, easy-to-understand tool for making good nutritional choices and is designed to make a positive and lasting impact on public health. Guiding Stars is currently in more than 1,500 supermarkets including Food Lion, Hannaford, Bloom and Sweetbay. Kings Super Markets will launch Guiding Stars in 2010. Guiding Stars has also launched the first nutrition rating system in a public school in Topsham, Maine, the dining halls and convenience stores of Bates College and the University of New Hampshire, and on the Shopper mobile iPhone application.