Knowledge Based Bio-Economy


Interventions to promote healthy eating habits: Evaluation and recommendations (Consumers)

Project acronym: EATWELL

Title of project: Interventions to promote healthy eating habits: Evaluation and recommendations

Research area: Consumers

Contract No: 226713

EU contribution: €2 511 852

Start date: April 2009

Duration: 54 months

Status: finalised

Obesity has been estimated to cost the EU some €70 billion annually through healthcare costs and lost productivity. The combined over-consumption of salt, sugar and saturated fats, and under-consumption of fruit and vegetables, causes almost 70 000 additional premature deaths annually in the UK alone.

EU Member States have initiated a variety of policy interventions to encourage healthy eating, including prohibitions on targeting children with adverts for certain foods, the promotion of fruit and vegetable consumption, nutrition labelling, dialogue with the food industry to improve food product composition and regulation of school meals and public sector canteens to ensure healthy food. Rarely have these been evaluated in a systematic manner.

The main objective of the EATWELL project was to improve nutrition policy in the EU Member States by providing scientifically sound evidence on the effectiveness of past interventions.

Specifically, the project’s objectives have been:

  • Assessment of the efficacy of past interventions in improving dietary and health outcomes, and identification of promising avenues for the future;
  • Assessment of the acceptability of potential future interventions and generation of best-practice guidelines for implementation;
  • Provision of policy, data collection and monitoring advice in relation to healthy eating;
  • Management of project to optimise scientific output and communication of scientific findings to a wide audience.

EATWELL looked at 111 national-level interventions, and used validated and advanced quantitative evaluation models to conduct fresh analysis of secondary databases. In addition, an online survey of over 3 000 interviews with European citizens was carried out, gauging public acceptance of healthy eating interventions. It also studied ways in which public sector publicity for healthy eating could learn from the marketing methods used in the private sector. Based on its findings, EATWELL has made several recommendations to aid development of future policies to encourage healthier eating.

EATWELL has developed proposals for effective policy initiatives that contribute to the implementation of the Consumer Policy Strategy and to the Action Plan on Food and Nutrition Policy. Results have been disseminated through active and continuing dialogue and interaction with a range of stakeholders, including SMEs, large firms, government departments responsible for food safety and health, scientists, educators and communicators.

Website of project:

Coordinator: Bruce Traill,

Organisation: University of Reading, School of Agriculture, Policy and Development, UK,


  • University of Aarhus, MAPP – Centre for Research on Customer Relations in the Food Sector Haslegaardsvej, Denmark, www.mapp.asb.
  • University of Bologna, Department of Statistics, Italy,
  • Ghent University, Faculty of Bio-Science Engineering, Department of Agricultural Economics, Belgium,
  • INRAN – Istituto Nazionale di Ricerca per gli Alimenti e la Nutrizione, Italy,
  • Jagiellonian University Medical College, Faculty of Health Sciences, Institute of Public Health, Poland,
  • Kraft Foods R&D,
  • EACA – European Association of Communications Agencies, Belgium,
  • EUFIC – European Food Information Council, Belgium,
  • SOAS (School of Oriental and African Studies) – Centre for Development, Environment and Policy, UK,