Uncategorised / Thursday, 10 June, 2021

Automating a Nutrient Profiling Model

Photo by Lindsay Moe on Unsplash

In June 2018, as part of the Childhood Obesity Plan, the government announced their aim to end price and location-based promotions of products that are high in fat, sugar or salt (HFSS, Department of Health and Social Care [DHSC], 2020). In April 2022, following multiple consultations, this new legislation will come into force. Products will be deemed HFSS as per the UK 2004/05 Nutrient Profiling Model (NPM) developed by the Food Standards Agency (DHSC, 2020). The NPM utilises a scoring system where points are rewarded for positive and negative nutrients. An overall score is then calculated to determine if a product is HFSS and subsequently cannot be promoted (Department of Health, 2011). Implementing the changes will be the responsibility of individual retailers and is expected to pose a notable challenge, incurring both time and monetary costs (Jenneson et al., 2020). This project is designed to help retailers implement legislation, which will in turn benefit policy makers and society.

The project has two aims:

1. Automate the current NPM into a publicly available tool
– Help all retailers make an assessment, followed by informed decisions, as to how to prepare for the legislation.

2. Identify products suitable for reformulation
– Identify potential reformulation solutions using detailed product data provided by our retail partner
– Equip, the running of in-house requests to provide healthier solutions for customers.

Our tool will be hosted on the CDRC website. Automation will build on work previously undertaken by project supervisor Vicki Jennesonand be developed using real life retailer data. This tool will assist retailers in implementing changes which are deemed a crucial part of reducing obesity in the UK, especially when their nutrition and data analytics teams do not necessarily have the capacity to implement these changes themselves. It will also support our retailer partner’s in house decisions.

The code is publicly available at https://github.com/VickiJenneson/NPM_Promotional_Restrictions. This code was previously tested on a retail product dataset used in research from Dietary Assessment Ltd.



Department of Health. (2011). Nutrient Profiling Technical Guidance. [Online]. [Accessed 12 May 2021]. Available from: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/216094/dh_123492.pdf

Department of Health and Social Care. (2020). Restricting promotions of products high in fat, sugar and salt by location and by price: enforcement. [Online]. [Accessed 12 May 2021]. Available from: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/restricting-promotions-of-products-high-in-fat-sugar-and-salt-enforcement/restricting-promotions-of-products-high-in-fat-sugar-and-salt-by-location-and-by-price-enforcement#definitions

Jenneson, V., Greenwood, D. C., Clarke, G. P., Hancock, N., Cade, J. E. and Morris, M. A. (2020). Restricting promotions of ‘less healthy’ foods and beverages by price and location: A big data application of UK Nutrient Profiling Models to a retail product dataset. Nutrition Bulletin. 45(4): pp. 389-402. doi: 10.1111/nbu.12468