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Updates on the Health Star Rating 

The Health Star Rating, or HSR, offers a brief overview of the nutritional content in packaged foods and beverages. Serving as a guide, it aids consumers in making informed decisions when choosing food and beverages. This blog post strives to delve deeper into the HSR, developing a more comprehensive understanding that includes the latest updates. 

What is the Health Star Rating? 

The HSR rates the overall nutritional profile of food and beverages. Foods are labelled with a rating from ½ a star to 5 stars, displayed on the front of the packaged foods. It is created to be an easy-to-use system, focusing on four nutritional elements linked to chronic diseases: energy, saturated fat, sodium, and total sugars. Foods can improve their star ratings scores based on the fruit, vegetable, protein, and dietary fibre content.1  

The purpose of the stars is to only compare products in the same category. For example, we use the stars to compare between a breakfast cereal and another, but not between yoghurt and pasta sauce.2 This system allows consumers to compare similar packaged foods in a quick and easy way, helping them to make healthier choices.3 

Figure 1. The Health Star Rating slogan.4 

Why do we need the Health Star Rating?  

Australia has a growing rate of obesity, one of the highest rates in the world. Over the last decade, the proportion of adults who were overweight or obese has increased from 62.8% in 2012 to 65.8% in 2022. Beyond quantitative metric, these conditions intertwine with serious health issues like cardiovascular disease and diabetes.5 This is why consumer food choices at the supermarket are powerful – they shape a balanced, healthy diet which is crucial for good health and wellbeing. 

In June 2014, the Australian state and territory governments, in collaboration with industry, public health, and consumer groups, launched the HSR system. While currently voluntary, this system encourages food companies to display ratings on their products, empowering consumers with information for smarter, healthier choices. 

What is the latest update?  

In October 2023, the HSR system was updated and now has expanded beyond physical packaging to include digital platforms. Food companies are now permitted to display their ratings on websites, providing consumers with a convenient means of accessing nutritional information. This shift towards digital transparency exemplifies a commitment to empowering consumers in making well-informed choices, particularly in the era of online grocery shopping.6 

A drawback of the Health Star Rating  

However, due to its focus on simplicity, its evaluation relies on a restricted set of nutrients for determining the star rating. The HSR exclusively considers factors like energy, saturated fat, sodium, and total sugars. Consequently, it’s crucial to acknowledge that while the HSR effectively highlights nutrients associated with chronic health conditions, it overlooks other beneficial components present in food, such as essential vitamins and potential probiotic advantages. Taking a holistic approach to food, considering them in their entirety, is essential as they comprise of a broad range of nutrients that are important for our overall health. 

What does this mean? 

In conclusion, the HSR system serves as a valuable tool for consumers seeking quick insights into the nutritional content of their food and beverage choices. The evolving landscape of nutritional labelling, as highlighted by the recent digital display update, reflects an ongoing commitment to empowering consumers on their journey towards adopting healthier lifestyles. However, it is essential to recognise its limitations and complement this information with a more holistic understanding of a product’s nutritional profile. Health professionals are encouraged to emphasise the importance of a holistic approach, considering nutritional factors beyond the HSR’s scope, to ensure comprehensive and personalised dietary advice for the best health outcomes in patients.  


  1. Health AGD of. Guide for Industry. Published March 2023. 
  1. Health Star Rating System. How to use Health Star Ratings. Published 2019. 
  1. Health Star Rating System. About Health Star Ratings. Published 2019. 
  1. Australian Government. Health Star Rating. Published 2011. 
  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The health effects of overweight and obesity . Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Published September 24, 2022. 
  1. Guide for Industry. Published March 2023.