For those that spend way too much time reading labels and understanding only half of them, there is a new app that can help us know which food is healthy and which one we should replace with a healthier alternative.
Researchers from The George Institute for Global Health in Australia and Northwestern University in the US have teamed up to create a smartphone application called “FoodSwitch.”
They asked users to add information on new food or foods that were changed in time, adding new information in real time in its database of 2,680,000 products.
Inside the app, users can tap once to scan a barcode of a packaged food and see the nutritional rating and it can show you healthier and similar foods.
The system uses rating – Health Star Rating, with food starting from 0.5 stars (unhealthy) to 5 stars (healthiest). The score is calculated using an algorithm that will analyze the impact of nutrients on health. The app will also show information on the amount of fat, saturated fat, sugar and salt in grams for each scanned food, as well as a percentage on the daily intake of nutrients for an adult. This information will be shown in red, yellow and green traffic lights.
If a particular food gets low stars or many red lights, it means that the food is high in fat, saturated fat, sugars, and salt. Users can compare products in the same category and see which option is healthier.
Users Can Help Improve The App’s Database
When the barcode of a food is scanned, but the product is not in the database, the app asks the user to take a photo of the packaging, of the panel with nutrition facts, of the list with ingredients, so that the team behind the app can add the information to the database.
Mark Huffman, is an associate professor at Northwestern University in the US, explaining that crowdsourcing is vital in updating the app in real time with information of products you might find in only a few stores or of new products.
The app also has a SaltSwitch filter to help users find food with less salt.
FoodSwitch has already launched in India, China, South Africa and Hong Kong, and we hope the app will be available worldwide.
Rex Austinwas born and raised in Thunder Bay Ontario on the shores of Lake Superior. Apart from running his own podcast (Ice Fishing And Other “Cool” Things), he spends his time canoeing and backpacking in Northern Ontario.. As a journalist Rex has published stories for Global News (Thunder Bay) we well as Buzz Feed and Joystiq. As a contributor to Great Lakes Ledger, Rex most covers science and health stories. Contact Rexhere