Health Stars Still Misleading Consumers

The Australian government recently relaunched the Health Star Rating (HSR) system – hoping to convince us to make healthier food choices. ‘The more stars – the healthier the food’, they say. Unfortunately it misses the target: many of the recommendations are not only misleading for consumers – but plain wrong by any standard.

And still is there no consideration for the three in four people with food intolerances like gluten, dairy, nightshades or fructose sensitivity.

IMG_0177IMG_0175Case in point: Coles brand Hash Browns: cooked potato (a nightshade) mashed, processed and mixed with flour – then deep fried and salted. It rates four stars out of five!

But this beautiful smoked salmon rates only two stars. Wait . . . what? How confusing this must be for time-poor folk trying to stay healthy.

Vital knowledge about human nutrition ignored

More than three decades ago archaeologists discovered that there was no disease in Old Stone Age Paleolithic humans (that is, humans who lived two million years ago.) Except for injury-induced conditions – no evidence of disease has ever been found in Paleolithic human fossils.

Compare this to today where AIHW figures say almost three in four of us will have one or more chronic diseases by age 65. That is – 71% will suffer from conditions like diabetes, obesity, a heart condition, rheumatoid arthritis, schizophrenia, thyroid disease, cancers, Alzheimer’s, kidney disorders or depression.

The sudden appearance of humanity’s first diseases in the New Stone Age Neolithic era – the first farmers – is attributed to the newly introduced foods which appeared when farming began just 10,000 years ago. The new foods were grains – and milk products. (For all the science on this – see Greater View Health .)

Unfortunately, the star rating system fails to embrace this knowledge – instead adhering to outdated nutritional tenets. Sadly, therefore the health star system can only mislead consumers.

A century of ‘old’ nutrition – a hundred years of chronic disease

Here at the Institute our experience across a decade with thousands of members is that people generally try to do the ‘right thing’. They listen to their doctors – and to health recommendations on lifestyle, diet and exercise.

But the statistics say we are moving in the wrong direction . . . that chronic disease – including obesity – is increasing. If the recommendations were correct – how can this be?

Ever since the 1920s we in the West have had nutrition advice thrust upon us by fervent diet ‘experts’ – along with food and supplement manufacturers offering to solve our health problems with ‘products’.

The medical profession too has bought into these old nutrition rules – sidelining food intolerance as a possible cause of illness. Most doctors openly advise patients to eat a balanced diet with protein, grains and dairy foods. (Our members report that doctors are among the greatest skeptics when food intolerance is mentioned – typically dismissing it out of hand.)

So … how does a century of ‘old’ nutrition advice stack up?

Majority Suffer Despite Following Advice

In the United States – often an indicator for Australia – some figures for disease -1900 to 1997[i]:

  • Heart disease tripled – from 13% up to 39% of the population
  • Cancer increased almost five-fold – from 6% to 29%

Current Australian figures for chronic diseases: diabetes, heart disease, cancers, depression, and rheumatoid arthritis are at all-time highs.

  • For people aged 45 – 64, 53% have one or more of these conditions[ii]
  • For those 65 or over the number is 71%.

Increasing Obesity

We all know overweight conditions are increasing – but the numbers are confronting.

In the United States – across five decades from 1962 to 2010 – the percentage of overweight or obese adults climbed from 48% to 69%[iii]. The graph shows variations according to degree of obesity.

 ■ Overweight     ■ Obesity     ■ Extreme obesity

From the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK)

In Australia obesity has followed the same trend.  Across only two decades – from 1995 to 2014 overweight and obesity in Australia increased from 56% – to the current rate of 63%[iv] of people (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, AIHW.)

  • So – do consumers deliberately go against nutrition advice?
  •  . . . Or could the ‘old’ nutrition principles be faulty?

Doubtful Health Ratings




Abiding by these flawed fundamentals is how a product consisting of malted barley, milk solids, sugar and cocoa (therefore with large percentages of gluten and casein) is offered up as a ‘health food’ for children … with four and a half stars!

It is also how a fruit juice beverage made from reconstituted fruit juice (more concentrated acids and fructose than natural fruit) rates five stars.

These are not just non-Paleo – but hundreds of thousands of food intolerant Australians –suffer symptoms – some without realising the cause. Peer-reviewed studies already link gluten, casein and lactose to diseases like depression, thyroid disease, reproductive disorders, cancers and autoimmune disease.

‘Paleo is the ideal diet if you are Homo sapiens’

IMG_0105Need more? Let’s look at breakfast. The most popular choices are combinations of grain and dairy: say toast (especially wholemeal or whole grain!) muffins . . . . or cereal and milk. Even muesli, pastries or yogurt.

According to these glowing accolades: Health Stars; or ‘Good Source of …’ Australians should be disease-free. But the statistics tell a different story.


At foodintol® we believe the Health Star Rating System at best misdirects consumers, underestimating our ability to think for ourselves – and at worst leads us towards sickness.

Since 2003 our experience has always been that people appreciate well substantiated information from reputable sources – like the vast international pool of peer-reviewed science now available.

Further referencesLogo May 2012

The Food Intolerance Institute of Australia Pty Ltd ABN 37 644 931 517

[i] Incidence and prevalence of chronic disease. The Marshall Protocol Knowledge Data Base

[ii] AIHW Australia’s Health 2008

[iii] National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) ‘Overweight and Obesity Statistics’.

[iv] Australia’s Health 2014

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