As a consumer nation, we are constantly bombarded with a surplus of different “healthy” and “nutritious” foods, so it’s important to read between the lines. Google is trying to help by offering a comparison tool in its search box. It will allow users to compare different foods with all of the nutrition facts. If you type in the phrase, “cherry vs. plum,” for example, the infograph will show you that per serving, cherries have more calories than a plum, but red cherries are lower in sugar by 2 grams.
Other combinations — red or sweet cherries, or prunes stewed with sugar and plums — give different comparisons and nutritional values. The drop-down menu on the tool also allows you to change the portion size or how the food is prepared, which is extremely useful for assessing the sugar and fat content.
The tool uses information taken mainly from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and other databases. It was installed after the success of Google's original nutrition search tool that was released in May 2013, Google Communications Manager Krisztina Radosavljevic-Szilagyi told Medical Daily in a phone interview.
Google is an innovative search engine that has become a household name to many. "We noticed that people were doing a lot of food and nutrition searches — multi-step searches on one food and another food,” said Radosavljevic-Szilagyi in an NPR interview. "These things are often compared to one another, so we thought, why don't we make it easy?”
“There are plenty more complicated food, recipe and nutrition questions to help people answer. We want to give as many answers to as many complicated questions as possible,” she added. After its installation at the end of 2013, the tool was followed by another tool that allows users to access restaurant menus faster. Currently, 75 percent of the restaurants in the U.S. are in this database.
Technology is always changing and improving, and the tool — as with all forms of technology — will undergo updates and improvements as needed, Radosavljevic-Szilagyi told Medical Daily. One method will be to use the questions people search for to better calibrate and develop the tool. “We’re looking at expanding in all directions, and we would like to answer more and more complex questions in the U.S.,” Radosavljevic-Szilagyi said.
With obesity on the rise in America, it’s important to make information regarding the foods people are consuming easier to access. Google is hoping that this tool will be a useful and successful aid. “We would love to get the word out to as many people as possible,” Radosavljevic-Szilagyi said.