NHS app to suggest ‘healthier alternatives’ for parents

Technology will enable users to scan barcodes

Credit: Ekta.Varia/PxHere

A new app from the NHS aims to point parents towards “healthier alternatives” to foods high in sugar, salt and saturated fat. 

The NHS Food Scanner App allows users to scan barcodes on food and drink products. The program will then provide a range of information, including a traffic-light rating to give an overview of sugar, salt and fat content, with the healthiest products being garlanded with a ‘Good choice’ badge. 

The software also includes a “fun augmented reality feature to help… celebrate good choices – or bring the sugar, salt and fat in a product to life to help kids understand more about what they’re eating.”

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The app will suggest to users potential healthier alternatives for drinks foodstuffs that are excessively, fatty, sugary or salty. 

Nadine Coyle of pop group Girls Aloud gave the thumbs-up to the government-backed technology.

“As a busy working mum, I find it hard to say no to my kid’s demands and often give in to ‘snack’ pressure – even though I know it’s not that good for them,” she said. “I had no idea some foods were so high in sugar, saturated fat and salt – so it’s great that the app gives you alternatives. I love using the NHS Food Scanner App and so does my daughter; she likes choosing the healthier swaps which is great – we are already making small changes through good food choices.”

The app forms part of a wider Better Health campaign which comes following what the government described as “a record rise in obesity among children since the start of the pandemic”, with more than 40% of children in the final year of primary school classified as overweight or obese. Many households bought more food than usual during the lockdowns of the past two years “and this remained above normal levels even once lockdowns ended”, according to the government.

Public health minister Maggie Throup said: “We know that families have felt a lot of pressure throughout the pandemic which has drastically changed habits and routines. The new year is a good time for making resolutions, not just for ourselves, but for our families. Finding ways to improve their health is one of the best resolutions any of us could make. By downloading the free NHS Food Scanner App, families can swap out foods from the weekly shop for healthier alternatives and avoid items high in salt, sugar and saturated fat.”


Sam Trendall

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