NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--JoinTheChallenge, a New York technology startup, has developed a traffic light rating system that categorizes food items with superior nutrition and lower calories as green (most healthy), yellow (medium health), and red (least healthy). Through the iPhone app, users can access over four hundred thousand rated restaurant menus, the largest database of health rated restaurant menus, which includes local restaurants, helping users choose healthier foods. The nutrition and fitness app also includes the ability to track food, exercise, and weight.
According to the 2011 – 2012 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), 69% of adults in the United States are categorized as overweight or obese, one of the highest rates in the world. With nearly 50% of food expenditures occurring away from the home, it has become crucial to help people make better food choices in restaurants in order to improve public health. The Affordable Care Act will require chain restaurants to make nutrition information available to their customers; however, the majority of restaurants will not fall under this requirement and will not have nutritional information available.
JoinTheChallenge has rated over 23 million items from restaurants across the county. Using just food names and descriptions, like those found on restaurant menus, JoinTheChallenge users can see how foods are rated, even when nutritional information is not available. In addition to viewing rated restaurant menus, the app includes a “Food Rater” that allows users to rate custom foods or foods cooked at home. The iPhone app, which has a 30-day free trial and costs only $9.99 per month thereafter, also allows consumers to keep a journal of their food choices. “We want to provide our users with the easiest way to make healthier food choices. By eating foods rated green, and replacing foods rated red, users can improve the nutritional profile of their diet,” says co-founder Ben Sakhai.
JoinTheChallenge is not the first to use a traffic light food rating system to highlight the healthfulness of foods. Past studies have shown consumers find nutrition labels confusing and difficult, making simpler systems imperative. In restaurants, consumers and dieticians consistently underestimate the calories in meals. Alternatively, simple traffic light systems, like JoinTheChallenge’s, outperformed other systems in helping consumers identify healthier products.
In January 2014, Massachusetts General Hospital published a study researching the long-term impact of a traffic light system after its cafeteria implemented its own red-yellow-green food rating system. By labeling cafeteria foods and beverages with respective color ratings and making green choices more visible, the cafeteria increased sales of green choices while decreasing sales of red choices, without customers reverting to their previously unhealthy choices, even after two years.
A recent study on JoinTheChallenge’s food rating system showed that, with respect to food items from twenty popular fast-food chains that are included in the JoinTheChallenge system, green rated foods were significantly lower than yellow rated foods which in turn were significantly lower than red rated foods for calories, calories from fat, total fat, saturated fat, and carbohydrates. The results showed foods rated red (244.3 calories/100g) had more than 60% more calories than foods rated green (151.2 calories/100g). With these results, the study concluded that the JoinTheChallenge proprietary traffic light food rating system has the potential to direct users to foods that are likely to help reduce their risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and has the potential to improve nutrition and public health.
JoinTheChallenge (www.jointhechallenge.com) is a New York technology company founded in 2011. Their core technology allows foods to be rated red (least healthy), yellow (medium health), or green (most healthy) in seconds, without the need for calorie or portion information. The company’s first product, an iPhone app, is a nutrition and fitness tracker, giving people the ability to keep a food and fitness journal, and set a weight goal. The app includes restaurant menus from across the United States with over 23 million rated menu items from hundreds of thousands of local restaurants. JoinTheChallenge makes food and fitness tracking easy, so people can reach and sustain their fitness goals.