Dietitian and registered nutritionist Nikki Hart got in front of the camera again for her last NZ Food and Grocery Council’s video. This time, Hart focused on the Health Star Rating system and how the scheme helps Kiwis fight obesity by making it easier to shop healthier, especially when choosing the best options from packaged and prepared foods.

“Most of us know that fruits and vegetables are healthy choices and we should consume at least five servings a day,” said Hart. “The HSR helps shoppers choose more of the healthier packaged products within the category.”

Launched in 2014, the health stars are now on thousands of products in New Zealand and Australia, measuring their overall nutritional content and healthiness. Consumers should always look at the recommended serving size and only compare foods within a category rather than different types of foods, because they are calculated differently.

“I want people to see that healthy eating can be easy and that there are no good or bad foods,” said Hart. “It’s about how often and how much we eat of different foods, and choosing the lower fat, lower salt and lower sugar versions when we can.”

It all comes down to food literacy, according to Katherine Rich, chief executive of the FGC, who pointed out that healthy-eating information can often be confusing and contradictory.
“With the rise of social media, anyone can claim to be an expert or become so popular or appealing that people do what they say. But often these ‘experts’ do not have the right knowledge base to give that advice, or it’s based on personal experience rather than sound science,” said Rich. “FGC believes that to successfully beat obesity, every sector of society needs to adopt a culture of healthy eating and activity.”