Completed Projects

Title: Overall Nutrition Quality Index (ONQI)
Status: Completed
Topic: Nutrition / Diet;Program or Product Development
Funding Period: 3/2006-2008
Study Design: A multidisciplinary expert panel independent of all food industry interests was convened to develop the Overall Nutritional Quality Index (ONQI). Dietary guidelines, existing nutritional scoring systems, and other pertinent scientific literature were reviewed. An algorithm based on the overall nutritional quality of food was developed and subjected to consumer research and validation testing.

The purpose of this research is to establish, validate, apply, and disseminate a measure of overall nutritional quality that can be applied to virtually any food on a supermarket shelf or restaurant menu. Consumer understanding of nutrition information is key to making dietary choices consistent with guidelines. The development of an objective, science-based, and universally applicable system of nutrition guidance would be of considerable potential value to the public health.

Further Study Details:

The project involved several steps. These included:

  1. Review of existing nutritional scoring systems;
  2. Development of an algorithm for the classification of food based on their nutritional quality. The general principles of the algorithm include creating a trajectory score for each nutrient in the numerator and denominator. Each trajectory score is weighted by public health implication of prevalence and severity thus establishing the relative impact of each nutrient; and a
  3. Validation of the index by comparing the ONQI scores to scores generated by an expert panel of renowned nutritionists.

The resulting ONQI algorithm incorporates over 30 entries representing both micronutrient and macronutrient properties of foods, as well as weighting coefficients representing epidemiologic associations between nutrients and health outcomes. The basic entry in the algorithm is a weighted trajectory score, which compares nutrient concentration in a food to the recommended concentration of a given nutrient in a healthful diet. In content validity testing, ONQI rankings and expert panel rankings correlated highly (R = .92; p < .001). In regression analysis, aggregated ONQI scores for total diet corresponded well with the Healthy Eating Index (p < .001) in the National Health and Nutrient Examination Survey 2003-2006 cohort (n = 15,900). Consumer research indicated strong appeal to consumers of the ONQI system in general, and the scores on a 1 to 100 scale specifically. A system for acquiring nutrient data, meeting U.S. Food and Drug Administration and U.S. Department of Agriculture standards, has been established so that virtually any food, beverage, meal, or recipe can be scored. Combined with a consumer education program, the ONQI has considerable potential to improve dietary patterns, and consequently the public health.



Changed at: 12/6/2018 5:28 PM Changed by: Judy Treu
Created at: 8/31/2010 11:16 AM Created by: Griffin Hospital