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Objective: Nutrient profiling can be defined as the 'the science of categorising foods according to their nutritional composition'. The purpose of the present paper is to describe a systematic and logical approach to nutrient profiling. Design: A seven-stage decision-making process is proposed and, as an illustration of how the approach might operate in practice, the development of a nutrient profiling model for the purpose of highlighting breakfast cereals that are 'high in fat, sugar or salt' is described. Results: The nutrient profile model developed for this paper calculates scores for foods using a simple equation. It enables breakfast cereals to be compared with each other and with other foods eaten at breakfast. Conclusion: Nutrient profiling is not new, but hitherto most nutrient profiling models have been developed in an unsystematic and illogical fashion. Different nutrient profiling models are needed for different purposes but a key requirement should be that they are developed using a systematic, transparent and logical process. This paper provides an example of such a process; approaches to validating nutrient profiling models are described elsewhere. © 2007 The Authors.

Original publication




Journal article


Public Health Nutrition

Publication Date





330 - 336