Scan, swipe, swap
The easy-to-use app that helps you make simple swaps for healthier foods
The NHS have updated their free Food Scanner app to make choosing healthier foods easier. Simply hold your phone camera over the barcode of your chosen food and the app will show you the nutritional information as well as healthier alternatives.
The app compares the nutrition information for salt, sugar and fats. Choosing lower salt options will help to lower your blood pressure, while less sugar and fat will help to look after your weight.
While some swaps may seem obvious, such as swapping a regular fizzy drink for the diet version, some are surprising and very helpful. Different ham products from the same brand for example, can contain radically different amounts of salt – as shown in this recent survey of sandwich meats. Simple swaps such as these can add up to make a meaningful difference to your diet and your health.
Dr Linia Patel, a registered dietitian and a spokesperson for the Association of UK Dietitians, explained: “You could be someone who has pizza three times a week but you want to make healthier choices. The app suggests a pizza, but one less loaded with salami and one with more vegetables. It’s a small swap.”
Dr Patel oversaw a trial which showed a family reduced their weekly intake of sugar by 40 cubes (160g), saturated fat by 80g, and salt by 15 sachets (7.5g) using the app. “The aim of the game is lots of small changes. A little bit less salt here, a little bit less sugar there, it all adds up over the week”.
The updated app was released as part of the NHS’s Better Health campaign, aiming to make it easier for families to choose healthier foods. 60% of parents say they are giving their children more sugary or fatty snacks than before the pandemic, and 90% said they would benefit from an app such as this. The pandemic has seen record rises in obesity, with one in four reception-age children now overweight or obese. Families found they bought more food during lockdowns and didn’t return to normal when the lockdowns ended. The app is family-friendly, but is suitable for all ages.