TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A 2021 study from Tufts University claimed ice cream was healthier than eating a multigrain bagel. Now, a new study from the University of Washington pushes back on it, not only on the nutritional value but how Tufts researchers came to that conclusion.

The October 2021 Tufts study was built on data used in their Food Compass, what they call a nutrient profiling system to assess how healthy foods are. The system, according to Tufts, was used to “discriminate the healthfulness of foods for front-of-package labeling, warning labels, taxation, company ratings, and more.”

Breaking down foods by nutritional value, Tufts explained the methodology for their study, using what they called a nutrient profiling system, or NPS.

Tufts said they used “relevant attributes and scoring principles were developed on the basis of an assessment of more than 100 reported NPS, including seven widely used NPS of diverse origins, a systematic review of national and international dietary guidelines, nutrient requirements for health claims, and an assessment of nutrients, ingredients and other food characteristics linked to health outcomes,” to rank the nutritional values of various foods on a health benefit scale.

While the study surveyed thousands of different foods and beverages, more than 8,000 consumed by American adults, two foods that centered in their information on the compass stood out, for their comparison.

Multigrain bagels were ranked as having a food Compass Score of 19, according to the Tufts data. An ice cream cone with nuts and chocolate ice cream had a score of 33, a higher rating than the multigrain bagel. However, ice cream bars and chocolate ice cream rated a 17.

In terms of health benefits, the Food Compass scores make it clear that higher points means higher nutritional value, so by the 2021 study’s ranking system, the ice cream cones with nuts and chocolate ice cream were rated more healthy than a multigrain bagel.

A study by the University of Washington, which examined the Food Compass results and methodology over 2021 and into 2022, called those results into question.

The University of Washington study said the Tufts study was different, in terms of how it compared and confirmed its results, because it used a different system to score nutrient values. According to UW, most systems use something called the Nutrient Rich Food Index, NRF, which ranks foods by evaluating positive and negative elements of food items to calculate nutritional values.

Instead, the Food Compass score uses what’s called NOVA, which evaluates food on a category system focused on how processed the ingredients and items are. Most of the 8,032 food items and beverages reviewed by the Food Compass study were placed in the category “ultraprocessed,” or “reconstituted industrial creations that are hyperpalatable, quasi-addictive, laden with additives, and energy-dense but nutrient-poor,” according to UW. The ultra-processed foods included vegetables, according to UW. Only 4.9% of the food studied by Tufts were considered “healthy” or minimally processed.

The UW study took issue with this ranking system due to its classifications being “inconsistent with conventional thinking” about what an ultraprocessed food is, aside the “notable exception” of lettuce.

Since publication of the UW study, Tufts University has since issued a correction in Nature, where both research surveys were published. The correction, published on Aug. 3, states the following, in part.

“In the original analysis, a coding error occurred in which the portions of fruits and vegetables present in mixed dishes and recipes were not always captured in the attribute scoring for fruits and vegetables in the food-based ingredients domain,” one study author, Darius Mozaffarian, wrote. “This has now been corrected.”