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A proposed nutrient density score that includes food groups and nutrients to better align with dietary guidance


Current research on diets and health focuses on composite food patterns and their likely impact on health outcomes. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) have likewise adopted a more food group-based approach. By contrast, most nutrient profiling (NP) models continue to assess nutrient density of individual foods, based on a small number of individual nutrients. Nutrients to encourage have included protein, fiber, and a wide range of vitamins and minerals. Nutrients to limit are typically saturated fats, total or added sugars, and sodium. Because current NP models may not fully capture the healthfulness of foods, there is a case for advancing a hybrid NP approach that takes both nutrients and desirable food groups and food ingredients into account. Creating a nutrient- and food-based NP model may provide a more integrated way of assessing a food's nutrient density. Hybrid nutrient density scores will provide for a better alignment between NP models and the DGA, a chief instrument of food and nutrition policy in the United States. Such synergy may lead ultimately to improved dietary guidance, sound nutrition policy, and better public health.

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