Monday, 30th October 2017

E- paper

Health ministry to release nutrition-watch App for Indian foods

The Union health ministry is set to launch an App linked to an Indian food database to display for consumers the nutritional contents of food, whether street-snacks, restaurant fare, or meals cooked at home.

By Our Special Correspondent
  • Published 19.01.17
  •  

New Delhi, Jan. 18: The Union health ministry is set to launch an App linked to an Indian food database to display for consumers the nutritional contents of food, whether street-snacks, restaurant fare, or meals cooked at home.

The App will rely on the Indian Food Composition Tables-2017 released today by the Hyderabad-based National Institute of Nutrition (NIN) and listing values of various nutrients in 528 foods, including cereals, legumes, fruits and vegetables, condiments and spices, fish, meat and poultry products, among others.

The health minister Jagat Prakash Nadda, inaugurating a symposium here called to discuss potential applications of the food composition tables, said he has directed the NIN to develop an App that could be used by consumers. "We want to simplify this heavy-weight 2kg book into an App which (consumers) could understand and use to (maintain) healthy food practices," Nadda said.

The App, which will provide values of calories, carbohydrates, proteins, fats, sugar, key vitamins among other nutrition-linked parameters for various foods, is expected to be ready for release in about two months, senior NIN scientists said.

Similar nutrient-tracking Apps are already available for use on mobile phones but, the NIN scientists said, their App may be tailored to provide some additional information not available through most existing Apps.

"The 2017 food composition tables will be the backbone for this App," said Soumya Swaminathan, director general of the Indian Council of Medical Research, NIN's parent institution. The tables contain information not documented earlier, she said.

The tables for example list the values of several key nutrients, such as bone-friendly vitamin-D2 in plant products or immunity-boosting phytochemicals in common Indian foods for the first time, NIN scientists said.

The scientists said the App would allow consumers to determine values of these nutrients, among others, in whatever food they plan to consume - whether a samosa from the street, a pizza ordered in a restaurant, or home-cooked dal and chappatis.

"We expect the food composition tables to have many applications," Swaminathan said.

Doctors could use the tables to prescribe the most appropriate diets to patients, food processing companies may use them to determine labels on their products, and policy-makers could use them to guide nutrition policies, she said.

The tables, revised by the NIN after 46 years, list the values of dietery fibre, vitamins, carotenoids, minerals, starch and sugar, fatty acids, amino acids, among several other nutrients in various foods commonly used across India. The tables display how values of some nutrients may change in certain foods when cooked in different ways - for instance when an egg is consumed boiled or as an omelette.