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The Overall Nutritional Quality Index


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BOHICA. The Secretary of Health, in conjunction with FDA, CDC and a bunch of Yalies, have devised a single scale to reflect the nutritional quality of various foods. The overt intent is to use this new index as the marketing gimmick to promote nutrition to the public. That's right, after decades of playing with various two-dimensional configurations of food groups and pyramids, there's a plan to borrow a page out of the wine marketing book and promote high-points-scoring foods.


As frightening as this dumbing-down of nutrition marketing is, the even more frightening thing is that we've come to this point because US obesity rates are still out-of-control, and HHS is desperate to find some mechanism that will meaningfully alter the nutritional habits of average Americans. As you can see from their preliminary rankings, the initial focus is on low-level ingredients. But it seems inevitable that a points war among prepared foods will soon follow...a "my frosted donut scores higher than your frosted donut" sort of thing.

Given the successful track record of one-dimensional scoring systems with other mass markets, I hope this system does find some traction with the Supersize Extra Value Meal crowd, but not to the exclusion of other nutritional guidelines. Because you can take single-number scoring too far.

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