“Snackwise” Nutrition Rating System for…Snacks

Add this to the growing list of nutrition ranking systems out there. Snackwise is a free, simple to use, online tool for deciding whether the snack you’re contemplating is OK or not:

Developed by the Center for Healthy Weight and Nutrition at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Snackwise® is a research-based snack rating system that calculates Nutrient Density in snack foods. Snackwise® is designed for use by any organization or individual interested in making healthier snack choices.

The program divides snacks to 3 nutrition groups -

GREEN: BEST CHOICE YELLOW: CHOOSE OCCASIONALLY RED: CHOOSE RARELY

Only 30% of snacks are green, 55% are yellow, and 15% are red. You can see a table with a list of snacks and their color group here. Some examples -

Teddy Grahams, Whole Wheat Fig Newtons, Clif Bars, and Nutri-grain cereal bars are considered green.

Nacho Cheese Doritos, Nature Valley Chewy Granola Bar, Kashi GOLEAN Chewy Bars, Pepperidge Farms and Goldfish Crackers are yellow.

Pop Tarts, Kit-kats, Cheetos, and many potato chip products are red.

What you need to know:

The goal of the system is to help parents and schools make better choices about which snacks to place in school vending machines.

The products are score based on a nutrition density formula which looks at nutrients to encourage such as protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals, as well as nutrients to limit such as sodium, sugar and saturated fats.

You can download the general rating criteria here, although the exact calculations are not disclosed. Given the choice, we would like to see more items in the red zone.

We can’t help but wonder why there is absolutely no mention of natural snacks such as fresh fruits, nuts, vegetable sticks, or items that require light preparation at home. These orphan snacks obviously have no corporation pushing them.

We did not find any association between the developers of this system and the food industry. That’s good. Such associations tend to cloud objectivity.

What to do at the supermarket:

Snacks are fun and tasty. We’re certainly snackers. However, it seems that there are way too many snacks available to consumers wherever they go. A good strategy for parents is to limit each child to one favorite snack per day. The rest of the eating should be of real meals and more natural snacks as fresh fruits, nuts, and juice.

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