The nutrition facts label is an important tool for consumers to acquire information regarding servings, calories, and nutrients in a packaged food product; however, nutrition labels are, in general, confusing and difficult to use. These labels provide information; they do not provide guidance or advice. The numeric format of nutrition labels requires simple calculations to interpret the provided information. While such calculations are not inherently difficult for interpreting a single nutrient, they become relatively more complex when multiple nutrients are tracked at once (e.g., sugar, fat, protein, sodium, etc.). One way to make nutrition facts labels more useful is to provide percent daily values (PDV) for nutrients, but PDV’s are not always present on nutrition facts labels. Moreover, PDV’s are typically calculated based on fixed calorie intake (2000 calories per day). If consumers are not familiar with this fixed calorie intake guideline or follow a different dietary guideline, the PDV’s on the label are misleading and/or confusing to the consumer.
The disclosed invention is a decision support tool that aids consumers in making healthy decisions. To implement this tool, a mobile application was developed that scans nutrition information on labels using OCR technology and converts it into simplified personalized feedback. The app uses FDA’s 5-20 rule to determine if a particular nutrient is the healthy amount and visualizes this feedback in either an augmented reality or a static popup format using color-coded thumbs-up and thumbs-down signs.
Current health and wellness apps on the market use a food product database system to provide personalized nutrition information. Consumers must scan the barcode of the product using the app, and the app retrieves information from the database. If food product information is not in the database, and/or if users do not have an active internet connection, the app is unusable.
The app will help consumers to easily process complex nutrition information on the labels, and thus, help them make healthy decisions quickly. It improves the overall experience of reading and utilizing nutrition facts labels by providing personalized feedback tailored to the dietary preference of consumer. The app not only makes nutrition facts information easy to use but also improves confidence in decision making. The app’s use of OCR technology creates a seamless experience by eliminating the needs for a food product database and for an active internet connection. The augmented reality or static popup interface provides intuitive feedback to improve decisions and overall experience.