Utility of a New Food Value Analysis Application to Evaluate Trade-offs When Making Food Selections

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Abstract

Consumers face a wide variety of options when selecting foods to feed themselves and their households, and they must balance a host of factors, including cost, preparation time, nutrition, taste, cooking skills, shelf life, food waste, and food safety. Each of these factors adds or subtracts value and helps determine the true cost of a food item based on an individual’s personal value system. If a single variable, such as cost, is examined, it may provide an incomplete picture of the true value of that food. A new Web-based application, Food Value Analysis, permits nutrition educators to evaluate relative costs as well as monitor adherence to dietary recommendations when consumers select one version of a food over another. This analysis demonstrates how the application can be used to compare differences among similar foods of different levels of processing. Nutrition professionals can use the application to help consumers make appropriate trade-offs and reach dietary goals, while accommodating differences in cooking skills as well as time and budgetary constraints.

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