Fun With New Nutritional Index: NuVal and ONQI

Over the next year, you’ll start to see a new “number” in your grocery stores — the “Overall Nutritional Quality Index” or “ONQI” (but likely to be marketed under the trademark, “NuVal”).  Developed by a bunch of nutritionists, the ONQI uses a complex algorithm to establish a single score — on a 1-100 scale, for all foods and recipes.  The algorithm takes into account the following factors: fiber; folate; vitamins A, C, D, E, B12, B6; potassium; calcium; zinc; omega 3 fatty acids; bioflavanoids; carotenoids; magnesium; iron; saturated fat; trans fat; sodium; sugar; cholesterol; fat quality; protein quality; energy density and glycemic load.

Sure, this is a gimmick, but it has some laudable objectives.  The ONQI strives to define the nutritional quality of a food based on its influence on overall dietary goals.

But what’s fun about the ONQI is when you start comparing foods to each other.  For example, you CAN now compare apples to oranges (and oranges win, 100 to 96).  Bacon, oh, how I love thee, is a 2.  A two?  WTF?  That’s only one more than taffy or a regular popsicle.  Dark chocolate is a 10, one better than white bread.  Unfortunately, a comprehensive list isn’t available yet.  I’ve found this list on the ONQI website and another in the September edition of National Geographic that is not online.

Of course, having a simple scoring system will create lots of debate.  The low-carb afficianados are already screaming mad that unbuttered, unsalted popcorn receives a 69 and skinless, boneless (and tasteless?) chicken breasts get a 39.  Heh.

And the fact that we need an index to teach people that broccoli is better for you than white bread is pretty sad, when you get right down to it.  Funny, too.


9 Responses to Fun With New Nutritional Index: NuVal and ONQI

  1. Joe says:

    I can’t wait to see how the Phood Companies start gaming this. Or maybe I can.

  2. Maura says:

    I’ve never paid attention to the low-carb aficionados, or any food police, anyway. I was amused by the Major Announcement that movie popcorn is worse for us than bacon and eggs. I haven’t seen any movie theaters serving bacon and eggs, so who cares?

    Great idea overall, but Joe’s right. The Phood companies will have a big time with this.

  3. durhamfood says:

    I want to know the value for cassoulet with extra pork belly!

  4. Fuzzy says:

    This is such a crock. Once again the Evil Food Nutritionists employed by the Ilk of FoodAgriBusiness try to tell us that you can add up chemicals and get food.

    Processed food is not as good as whole food. There. That makes a good mantra, if people want to know what foods to buy and don’t have enough functional literacy to know that a carrot is better for you than a can of ravioli.

    If the gov’ment and their revenuers were on our side, they’d give food subsidies to carrots and broccoli, not to corn.

    I wonder what *water* gets on their scale.

  5. Varmint says:

    Actually, if I recall correctly, low sodium club soda was in double digits.

  6. susan says:

    It does remind me of something I heard once. Something to the effect that, “If you’re spending that much time reading the nutritional information on the side of packages, you’re eating the wrong stuff.”

    Although I find it tricky sometimes choosing a box of cereal to ensure it has sufficient fiber and not too much sugar or sodium, I think that so much else is common sense – like what Fuzzy said.

  7. Robert_F says:

    I’m all for this but you know what? I think the Phood companies are going to have a problem here…. they are going to go out of business or experience severe financial strain and the farmer….. the farmer will make a comeback!

    This system WILL make people start to eat the right foods. It’s an immutable law of marketing that the higher something is on the list the more it is used/consumed. For foods, this will be survival of the fittest (healthiest). Junk food will die a death and healthy unprocessed food will make a comeback.

    MickyD’s are going to have to bribe some people with some big bucks to fudge their ONQI numbers…. or start changing their menus…. Filet’O’Artichoke.

    This is nothing bu t a good thing for the world and I can’t wait to be able to use these numbers to live healthier.

    And yes…. less less a food has been through the processing system the more healthy it is.

  8. dubbschism says:

    Fuzzy – looks like these are nutritionists from Yale, not employed by any food companies. so…

  9. Anonymous says:

    I thought this would have an actual nutrition “Guide”. Looking for that! Thanks

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