Health Star Ratings. Making shopping easier for your family.

Maintaining a healthy weight and improving our health and well-being are important for everyone. Overweight and obesity increase our risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers.

With 63% of adults and 25% of children now overweight or obese, Australians face a significant health risk (OECD June 2014 and Australian Health Survey 11/12). Making changes to the food we eat is one way we can help prevent these chronic diseases and also help people already at increased risk to turn things around.

The Health Star Rating system is a food labelling method to help take some of the guess work out of shopping and help us make smarter choices when buying packaged food. It allows us to quickly compare the general nutritional profile of foods within the same category of processed goods. For example, we can compare one breakfast cereal with another, or one muesli bar with another. It’s simple to understand and use. The more stars, the healthier the choice.

When it comes to good nutrition, the Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend fresh is best. The guidelines advise us to eat a balanced diet, increase our daily intake of fresh fruit, vegetables and dietary fibre and to limit our intake of saturated fats, sugars and sodium (salt). The Health Star Rating system allows us to quickly see which packaged products in a particular category contain more of the good nutrients and less of the ones that increase our risk of chronic disease.

Foods are rated by their nutritional content per 100g/100mL, with star ratings ranging from 1/2 a star to 5 stars.

The more stars, the healthier the choice.

Here's what to look for on the front of packaged foods

Health Star Ratings are based on:
  • Total energy (kilojoules) of the product. An average Australian adult should consume around 8,700 kj a day
  • The saturated fat, sodium (salt) and sugar content. Consuming too much of these risk nutrients is linked to being overweight and obese, cancer, heart disease and type 2 diabetes
  • The fibre, protein, fruit, vegetable, nut and legume content. Increasing consumption of these healthy nutrients and ingredients is good for your health

Tips for healthier shopping for your family

  • Look for the stars on the front of packaged foods: the more stars, the healthier the choice
  • Compare products within the same category. For example, compare breakfast cereals with other breakfast cereals, but don't compare muesli bars with frozen pizza
  • Find ways to add fresh fruit and vegetables to each meal and make them the first choice for a snack whenever possible
  • Try to make one positive change to the contents of your shopping basket or the ingredients for a meal
  • Avoid shopping when you are hungry
  • Many healthy foods – like fresh fruits and vegetables or lean meats – are not packaged and won’t have a star rating. These are a vital part of a nutritious diet
  • A high Health Star Rating does not necessarily mean that the food provides all the essential nutrients required for a balanced and healthy diet

Simple tips for healthier eating

Aim for at least five serves of vegetables and two serves of fruit every day
  • Keep treats as treats! Some treats have Health Star Ratings to help you make better choices
  • Limit packaged and processed foods, and foods high in added fats, sugar and salt
  • Eat regularly throughout the day, starting with a healthy breakfast
  • Watch portion sizes
  • Pack lunches. Taking healthy foods, including fruit and vegetables, to work or school means we’re less likely to eat less healthy options
  • Drink more water

When buying packaged foods, Health Star Ratings are one tool to help us make healthier choices. Nutrient icons, the Nutrition Information Panel, and ingredients list provide additional information about key nutrients and ingredients to help us choose the right product.

Hungry for more?

To better understand the importance of healthy eating and for more tips on what constitutes a healthy diet, visit theEat for Health website www.eatforhealth.gov.au, which features the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating.

The Health Star Rating - A joint Australian, state and territory governments initiative in partnership with industry, public health and consumer groups.