I admit this reluctantly: At times even I have a hard time seeing past all the hype on food packaging. Cereals, for example, can be next to impossible to figure out. Some brands sport banners about added vitamins and minerals yet are mum about sugar being the primary ingredient. Others with modest packaging deliver whole grains and an entire day's worth of fiber in a serving. A careful analysis of the "Nutrition Facts" panels might provide some guidance, but you would have to do a lot of math before you could discern the best choice.
That's why I've been working with a dozen top nutrition scientists from leading universities and health organizations throughout North America to develop the Overall Nutritional Quality Index, or ONQI. We've analyzed foods based on about 30 different nutrient factors—like fiber, fat, vitamins, calories—and assigned them a number from 1 to 100 that indicates how healthy they are. The higher the number, the more nutritious the food—period. The scores will appear on tags right in front of the products so that you can now tell at a glance which cereal or bread or granola bar or pasta sauce is the more nutritious choice. The ONQI is coming this fall to several supermarket chains around the country, and in March 2009 to many more. Visit www.onqi.com to see if your supermarket has adopted the system. If not, let the manager know you want the ONQI.