Science and the Stars

Female ShoppingAs nutrition advocates who are committed to improving public education about science-based dietary recommendations, we recognize the importance of how our nutrition guidance program performs in independently funded researched published in peer-reviewed journals. We’re committed to engaging with the industry about our algorithm, which is why we’re pleased to share the research and science looking at Guiding Stars.

Transparency about the way we rate food is an important part of our work, which is why we published our algorithm. We’ve also provided a white paper explaining the science behind Guiding Stars.

Download the white paper (PDF) »

The Milbank Quarterly

Consumers’ Response to an On-Shelf Nutrition Labelling System in Supermarkets: Evidence to Inform Policy and Practice

According to a 2017 independent study, data from three supermarket chains and interviews with nearly 800 shoppers demonstrates that the Guiding Stars system helped shoppers choose items with less trans fat and sugar and more fiber and omega-3 fatty acids.

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Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior

Guiding Stars Influences Perception of Healthy Food Choices at a 4-Year University

A 2017 study at the University of New Hampshire has shown the value of Guiding Stars for university dining services. According to the study, “over time, patrons perceive a benefit from point-of-purchase nutrition information such as Guiding Stars, particularly at an on-campus eatery with a variety of choices.”

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Public Health Nutrition

The impact of a supermarket nutrition rating system on purchases of nutritious and less nutritious foods

A 2014 independent study conducted by researchers from Cornell University examined how the Guiding Stars nutrition rating system impacted consumer food purchases. According to the study, “the introduction of the nutrition ratings led shoppers to buy a more nutritious mix of products.”

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Letter to the Editor

The Guiding Stars Scientific Advisory Panel provided comments to Public Health Nutrition in response to specific study conclusions.

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International Food and Agribusiness Management Review

Simulating the Potential Effects of a Shelf-Tag Nutrition Information Program on Diet Quality Associated with Ready-to-Eat Cereals

According to independent data published in the International Food and Agribusiness Management (IFAMA) Review, the nationwide implementation of the Guiding Stars Program on ready-to-eat breakfast cereals alone could prompt consumers to reduce the amount of added sugars and increase the amount of whole grains in their diets by 2.5 percent, while also reducing calories and sodium intake.

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Food Policy

Effects of the Guiding Stars Program on purchases of ready-to-eat cereals with different nutritional attributes

A 2013 study published in the journal Food Policy confirms that Guiding Stars influences grocery shoppers’ selections, significantly increasing demand for products that are rated more nutritious, at the expense of those that are not. According to the study, shoppers were significantly more likely to choose ready-to-eat cereals with one, two or three Guiding Stars, indicating a higher nutritional value, versus those with zero stars, or a lower nutritional value.

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American Journal of Health Promotion

Development and Implementation of the Guiding Stars Nutrition Guidance Program

In July 2011, the Guiding Stars program received a patent for the algorithm used to rate foods. In the same year, the algorithm was made transparent by publication in a peer-reviewed article. We are proud to be the first nutrition guidance program to take this step, which we hope will benefit the public through influencing both food manufacturing practices and public policy on nutrition labeling, ultimately benefiting consumers looking for an easy way to identify more nutritious foods.

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American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

Guiding Stars: The effect of a nutrition navigation program on consumer purchases at the supermarket

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.

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Research Request Form