Everyone knows red is for "stop," yellow for "caution" and green for "go." Even kids. That simplicity is one reason the Snackwise nutrition rating system developed by researchers at Columbus (OH) Children's Hospital's Borden Center for Nutrition & Wellness has already drawn more than a hundred users despite only being on the market for a couple of months. Introduced in January, Snackwise is a computer program that rates packaged snack foods based on 10 components taken from the nutrition label. The components include calories, total and saturated fats, fiber, sugars, protein, calcium, iron and Vitamins A and C.
The ratings are then used to designate the snack as red (least healthy), yellow ( moderately healthy) or green (healthy). The program comes with ratings already calculated for about a hundred of the most common vended snacks.
"Users are free to use the information as they wish," says Kellee Patterson, MPH, program director for employee wellness at the Borden Center at Children's Hospital. "Some simply tag each item in the vending machine while others dedicate entire machines to yellow and green options."
While Snackwise was developed specifically for children over the age of five, it is applicable to adults as well, Patterson says. Several businesses and healthcare facilities have already purchased the program for use in evaluating their vended offerings. So have some packaged snack manufacturers eager to see how their products rate. Children's Hospital itself will soon introduce the program on its campus, which employs some 5,000 individuals.
For more information or to purchase a copy of Snackwise, go to www.snackwise.org