A study by the George Institute has ranked the nutritional value of thousands of processed foods. The results found the average health ratings of packaged supermarket food in Australia has not improved.

Here’s what you need to know.

The findings

Using the Government’s Health Star Rating System more than 32,000 products by 33 major food and beverage brands were assessed.

Between 2017 and 2018, 16 brands recorded a fall in their average health star rating (HSR), 8 experienced an improvement, and 9 remained unchanged

Researchers found A2 Dairy, Sanitarium, and Nudie Foods to be the healthiest brands (with an average of 4.1 stars), while Frucor, Mondelez, and Bundaberg Brewed Drinks were the least healthy (with an average of 1.3 stars).

Of the major supermarkets’ own-brand products, Woolworths came out on top with an average of 3.2 stars, followed by Coles on 3.0, ALDI on 2.7 and IGA on 2.6.

What does this mean?

The results suggest current initiatives to engage the food and beverage industry to reformulate products to create a healthier food environment for Australians has been ineffective.

According to Gary Sacks, co-author of the published study and associate professor at Deakin University’s Global Obesity Centre, “This report shows clear opportunities for manufacturers and retailers to make significant improvements to the healthiness of the food supply.”

According to after-hours doctors and food retailers need to take a more active role in improving the nutritional standards of the food supply in Australia.

What can be done?

“Government action is urgently needed to encourage manufacturers and retailers to make foods healthier,” Professor Sacks said.

Better guidelines, such as mandating the Health Star Rating System for all food products, need to be implemented so Australian consumers can transparently see and evaluate the nutritional value in their purchases.

There must be the development of clear targets and timelines for the reformulation of all unhealthy food categories and monitor progress against them.