Enhancing the quality of the food supply is considered one of the cornerstones of healthier food environments. A critical first step toward this goal consists in getting a clear picture of the nutritional quality of foods and beverages that are offered to consumers on the market. Nutrient profiling is promoted as a method to characterize the overall nutritional quality (healthfulness) of foods and beverages. Indeed, nutrient profiling models evaluate the nutritional quality of a food based on its content in multiple nutrients (e.g. sugars, sodium, fibre), as opposed to relying only on the content in a single nutrient.
The proposed research program is aimed at generating data that will support the creation of healthier food environments using nutrient profiling as a reliable approach to characterize the overall nutritional quality of the food supply. Because the number of existing nutrient profiling models is proliferating worldwide, a first objective is to identify existing models that are potentially relevant for use in Quebec and in Canada. Because very few existing models have been validated, a second objective is to validate the identified models in different populations (adults, children) to determine which model is the most reliable indicator of the healthfulness of foods. Thirdly, the nutritional quality of foods of high importance to consumers (e.g. breakfast cereals, granola bars) will be evaluated using the most valid model.
Finally, additional analyses will allow verifying how the nutritional quality of foods is associated to factors known to influence food-purchasing decisions, such as food prices. Taken together, the results generated by this research program will provide useful information to knowledge users (e.g. government representatives) about which actions could be undertaken to improve the nutritional quality of the food supply and contribute to population health in Quebec and in Canada.