to improve it, it is necessary to add the degree of transformation

to improve it, it is necessary to add the degree of transformation

  • News
  • Published on

    Reading 2 mins.

    in collaboration with

    Alexandra Murcier (dietician-nutritionist)

    Medical validation:
    September 15, 2022

    According to Italian researchers, taking Nutri-Score into account is not enough to preserve your health. Other tools, such as the degree of food processing, would thus be considered much more useful.

    The Nutri-Score indicates, through a five-colour scale, the nutritional quality of a product, taking into account its energy value and its nutrient composition. However, it does not take into account another most important “detail”: the degree of processing of a food. At least that’s what a study published in The British Medical Journal.

    Ultra-processing of food is dangerous

    Ultra-processed products are industrial foods that have added sugar, oil, salt, additives and other ingredients that are not found in your pantry. They belong to group 4 of the Nova classification which lists foods according to their degree of processing.

    The problem ? The Nova classification is used very little by consumers, whereas the ultra-processing of a food is much more harmful to health than a poor nutritional composition.

    To arrive at this observation, Italian researchers followed 22,900 adults (average age 55 years; 48% men) for nearly 14 years, taking into account both the nutritional composition of their diet and the degree of food processing. During this time, 2205 of them died.

    Results ? The research team noticed that Nutri-Score and Nova classification were both associated with a high risk of mortality (cardiovascular and all-cause); but it is also – and above all – the degree of transformation of the products that affected the participants.

    “A significant proportion of the mortality risk (…) was explained by a high degree of food processing. In contrast, the relationship between a high consumption of ultra-processed foods and mortality is not explained by the poor quality of these foods”can we read in the study.

    Knowing the degree of transformation of a food therefore seems absolutely essential.

    NO to diets, YES to WW!

    A not very “transparent” nutri-score

    Should we therefore question the Nutriscore? No, but there are several ways to improve it.

    “We need to focus on foods that the Nutri-Score classifies as nutritionally sound but are also highly processed,” adds Giuseppe Grosso, co-author of the study. “This is the case for example of certain drinks which, although they have a reduced sugar content, therefore adequate from a nutritional point of view (letter B in the Nutri-Score), are in fact highly processed”.

    An observation shared by Alexandra Murcier, dietitian-nutritionist:

    “The nutri-score is not necessarily representative. Indeed, there is not enough transparency on the way it is calculated. It is not educational, it does not allow people to eat better. The degree of food processing therefore seems more relevant “.