Developer Creates More Visual Food Data With Interactive App

More consumers are reading food labels than ever before. Customers expect packaged foods to contain the appropriate and promised ingredients. A developer has reinvented food data by launching a new web app, Sage Project. Co-founded by Sam Slover and backed by the FDA, the Sage Project is an online platform that gives food data and labels a new visual understanding of what we are eating.


The Sage Project

The project deconstructs thousands of food products–both fresh and packaged–into a personalized, interactive platform that contains necessary information you would find in conventional food labels. The information accessed with this app includes nutrients, calories, allergens, vitamins, and ingredients. But aside from providing food data, the developer wanted to communicate the nutritional content and what it means in the context of the health of an individual. The app also contains information on how it affects the fitness goals and activity levels of a person.

The app itemizes all the ingredients regarding weight in a list. While it is straightforward enough, the developer also ensured that the ingredients and nutrients also change depending on the serving size. This gives consumers a clear idea of how much of a particular ingredient or nutrient they are getting from the food in a specific amount.

Why People Are Not Reading Food Labels

There is a big reason why most consumers do not read food labels. While it takes some time getting used to reading food labels, conventional food labels are downright boring to look at. In a study conducted by researchers from the University of Minnesota, they revealed that one of the biggest reasons why people are not looking at labels is because they do not have strong visuals.

To solve this problem, the Sage Project deconstructed the traditional food label into an infographic. A list of the five most abundant nutrients of the food product is located at the top of the page, while an analysis of the nutritional content is found beneath it.

The app also features the types of exercises needed to burn off a particular food item when eaten; while an annotated list of ingredients including allergens is found in the lower part of the screen. Since most of the consumers are not familiar with some of the ingredients used in making a product, there are information icons beside each ingredient that you can scroll through to understand that particular ingredient better.


The Drawbacks to The Sage Project Food Data

The Sage Project provides a lot of information, which is one of its drawbacks. Some people just want their food labels to be straightforward. With so much information, some people may find the entire app overwhelming. However, the visual appeal of the data makes it easy to comprehend for the more data savvy generation, millennials.


According to Angela Lemond from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, consumers might experience information overload when using this app. But nevertheless, this app can be customized to fit any customers’ dietary restrictions as well as health goals. What matters is that this app can help a lot of people make the right health decisions when it comes to their food.

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Creative Marketing Strategies Can Help Kids Eat Veggies

Most parents find it difficult to get their kids to eat veggies. But with the right help, parents may be able to locate the solution, thanks to creative marketing strategies. Researchers from Ohio State University in Columbus used a simple method to encourage children to eat fruits and vegetables. They placed banners in school cafeterias that feature vegetable animated characters dubbed as the Super Sprowtz. These featured characters are Zach Zucchini, Miki Mushroom, and Suzie Sweet Pea.

Research on How Marketing Impacts Consumption of Veggies

They observed if the banner increased the likelihood of kids picking up veggies and salads and eating it. Four weeks after the creative marketing strategy was established, researchers noted that the number of school children who took vegetables from the cafeteria salad bars tripled. According to assistant professor Andrew Hanks, creative marketing strategies are very powerful when used correctly to encourage children to make healthy choices when it comes to their foods.

The schools were randomly assigned to different groups which include the typical cafeteria setup and one where the Super Sprowtz was used. For schools which feature the creative marketing strategy, some used only vinyl banners or videos while others had both banners and videos.


The study showed that while there is an increased number of students from 13% to 24% who took vegetables from the salad bars from schools that featured only the banners, a tremendous increase from 10% to 35% was observed in schools with both banners and videos. Interestingly enough, schools that had the regular cafeteria setup, as well as those that only used videos, did not observe any improvement. The researchers concluded that the videos were not an actual part of the salad bar, which created a disconnect to the students.

This study produced a positive light on advertising. According to Tamara Melton, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, using creative marketing strategies is a great way for schools to promote eating healthy food to the children. Another advantage of this particular approach is that it is very affordable for most schools.

Can Super Sprowtz Sustain Interest in Veggies?

However, the challenge is that while this tactic is useful in the first few weeks, the novelty may wear off. It is crucial to adapt through time as what works for school children may not readily translate for the older kids. The character Zach Zucchini from Super Sprowtz may no longer appeal teenagers. The key here is how to develop a taste for veggies and fruits to children so that they retain it once they are older.


The responsibility of feeding vegetables to children also falls on the shoulders of parents. Melton mentioned that parents could also encourage young kids to eat vegetables by setting examples. Letting kids prepare their fruits and vegetables is also an effective way of making them appreciate such type of foods. Lastly, growing a small home garden is also a great way to introduce vegetables to children at a young age.

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UN Launches “Decade of Action on Nutrition” Resolution

Every country in the world faces problems with poor nutrition. Researchers noted that the lack of proper nutrition in the first 1,000 days of a child could lead to irreversible developmental gaps. The problems of poor nutrition are often linked to the lack of food security. Food insecurity is a leading cause of the high rates of early death as well as disability among children, pregnant mothers, and older people. Ultimately, problems with inadequate nutrition are leading governments to spend more money on health care costs in the long run.


The UN Resolution

The United Nations General Assembly placed nutrition at the core of its sustainable development agenda by launching the “Decade of Action on Nutrition” resolution. The resolution recognizes the importance of improving nutrition and food security to achieve the 2030 Agenda alongside eliminating extreme poverty and climate change.

According to Food & Agriculture Organization (FAO) director general Jose Graziano da Silva, “Children cannot focus on their education if they lack the nutrients that they need.  Sadly, the problem with malnutrition and food insecurity affects children and is a rampant problem in many emerging countries around the world. As a result, economies are affected as malnourished children grow up to be chronically tired workers.”

This resolution aims to provide a platform for change and action for the many stakeholders around the world. Signatories of the resolution–mostly world leaders and other organizations–call for the support of international organizations, governments, private sectors, academia, and civil societies to work together to end world hunger by improving the food security and nutrition of young people. The United Nations encourage all agencies and member states to encourages collective effort by sharing information and technology to improve food security. The resolution also proposes creating policies that can be implemented at the regional levels of countries around the world.

Non-government organizations such as Action Against Hunger was impressed that many advocates have agreed to support and commit to eliminating malnutrition by 2030. However, international advocacy director Glen Tarman noted that the resolution would require an enormous amount of both financial and political commitment from all countries involved and the United Nations only has a decade to make sure everything is aligned.


Obesity as Another Rising Problem

The resolution documents the UN’s concern that more than 800 million people are chronically undernourished all over the world. The resolution also expresses concern about the rising number of individuals who are overweight. About 1.9 billion adults are overweight in the world which also showed signs of micronutrient deficiency. Just because people are obese does not mean that they get enough nutrients from food.

Director of Nutrition of the UN Food and Agricultural Organization Anna Lartey noted that the rising numbers of obese people in poor regions particularly in Africa made the UN include obesity in the 2030 resolution.

Both obesity and malnourishment are significant problems in developing countries, and the United Nations has been working hard to address the problem. The decision may pave a way to finally finding a solution to this long-standing issue.

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