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New tool to improve diet

Example_of_FoodSwitch_AppFoodSwitch is the first smartphone app to enable consumers to make healthier and smarter food and drink choices. Putting you in control when you’re out shopping, FoodSwitch can help you make more informed decisions.

FoodSwitch allows you to scan the barcode of over 80,000 packaged food and drinks sold across major UK supermarkets using their smartphone camera in order to receive immediate, easy to understand ‘traffic light’ nutritional information along with suggested similar, healthier products. Using the app you can reduce high levels of fat, salt and sugar in you (and your families’) diet. The app compares the overall nutritional value of the product to existing Department of Health criteria.

FoodSwitch was developed by leading UK nutrition research experts Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH), the Medical Research Council Human Nutrition Research, The British Heart Foundation Health Promotion Research Group, and the Nuffield Department of Population Health and Nuffield Department of Primary Care, University of Oxford, and led by The George Institute for Global Health (TGI). It can be argued that any manufacturers have been hiding behind their labels for years. FoodSwitch gives customers the perfect opportunity to get to grips with what the labels mean by colour coding each product by the content of four important nutrients: total fat, saturated fat (saturates), sugars and salt.

For products that are not listed in the database, shoppers are invited to ‘crowd source’ the information by using the app to take photos of missing products, they be validated and added to the database. Bruce Neal, inventor of FoodSwitch, says: “The app is all about putting power back into the hands of the community. At the same time as recommending healthier alternatives to shoppers, the photographs of missing products sent in by users give us a complete picture of what’s in the food supply. Such information can be used to hold big businesses directly accountable for what they are putting on the shelves.”

Dr Peter Scarborough comments, “With all the messages about health in the public eye, it is hard for consumers to know what is ‘healthy’. The established nutrition criteria used in the app shows customers products that are healthier overall, not just whether they are higher in salt, fat or sugar.”

Download for free from iTunes or Google Play.

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