EU Science Hub

Food-Based Dietary Guidelines in Europe

Table of Contents

1. Defining Food-Based Dietary Guidelines
2. Food-Based Dietary Guidelines for the EU-28, Switzerland, Iceland, and Norway

3. Methodology


1. Defining Food-Based Dietary Guidelines

Food-Based Dietary Guidelines (FBDGs) have been described as science-based recommendations in the form of guidelines for healthy eating. They are primarily intended for consumer information, and as such, they should be appropriate for the region or country, culturally acceptable and practical to implement. Moreover, they should be consistent, easily understood and memorable (EFSA 2010).

2. Food-Based Dietary Guidelines for the EU-28, Switzerland, Iceland and Norway

The development of FBDGs is an important part of nutrition policy. Countries are encouraged to integrate these with other health promotion policies such as those for physical activity, smoking cessation, or the reduction of alcohol-related harm (WHO 1998).

As per its definition, FBDGs can be unique to the population or country that developed them. For example, country-specific nutrient intake levels, availability of food products, and dietary/cultural characteristics affect the development of FBDGs. For this reason, 'it is not feasible to establish detailed and effective food-based dietary guidelines which could be used at the EU level' (EFSA 2010).

Nonetheless, all countries in the EU plus Switzerland, Iceland and Norway (see Source documents table) have FBDGs. This brief summarises them and the many common aspects they contain.

3. Methodology

A complete list of national FBDGs was compiled and confirmed by representatives of the High Level Group on Nutrition and Physical Activity. The content of national FBDGs was assessed by native speakers or otherwise translated into English using machine translation. The information extracted was collated in a dedicated Microsoft® Access 2010 form. Access to this database can be provided upon request. Individual country data were reviewed and the content validated by the corresponding representative of the High Level Group on Nutrition and Physical Activity.

The grouping of the recommendations in this brief reflects the most commonly encountered food/nutrient groups in the FBDGs: starchy foods; fruit & vegetables; milk & dairy products; legumes; (red) meat, fish & eggs; fats & oils; sweets, desserts & savoury snacks; water and non-alcoholic beverages; alcohol; salt; and sugars & sweeteners. Food groupings and food group names differ across individual FBDGs; the ones used here are a compromise to present the information in a structured way. Beyond describing the common food groups, references to physical activity, overall diet and lifestyle habits, and environmental sustainability are also considered. The order of presentation of the various recommendations should not be taken to imply a hierarchy or a particular level of relevance.

Qualitative and quantitative recommendations are described separately to give the reader a feel for the various ways in which the advice is phrased as well as the amounts and consumption frequencies proposed. Any visuals such as pyramids or plates developed to support the dietary advice are included.

While several countries have developed separate FBDGs for different population groups (e.g., children, adolescents, elderly), the recommendations covered in this brief are based on FBDGs for adults or the general (healthy) population. Where available, reference is made to FBDGs for children.

Disclaimer: Due care was taken to ensure factually correct information. Food groupings and food group names differ across individual FBDGs; the ones used here are a compromise to present the information in a structured way. Differences such as those in number of portions and portion sizes were kept unaltered. The original country FBDGs and the responsible national public health authorities remain the only qualified points of reference.

Food-Based Dietary Guidelines - Source Documents

Belgium - Flanders

Source documents:

FBDG developed by:

  • Flemish Institute for Healthy Living

Belgium - Wallonia

Source documents:

FBDG developed by:

  • Food in Action in collaboration with Institute Paul Lambin
Bulgaria

Source documents:

FBDG developed by:

  • Ministry of Health; National Center of Public Health Protection
Czechia

Source documents:

FBDG developed by:

  • Czech Society for Nutrition
Denmark

Source documents:

FBDG developed by:

  • Ministry of Environment and Food
Germany

Source documents:

FBDG developed by:

  • German Nutrition Society, on behalf of the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture

Endorsed by the Ministries of Health and Agriculture.

             

Estonia

Source documents:

FBDG developed by:

  • National Institute for Health Development
Ireland

Source documents:

FBDG developed by:

  • Department of Health
Greece

Source documents:

FBDG developed by:

  • Ministry of Health
Spain

Source documents:

FBDG developed by:

  • Ministry of Health, Consumption and Social Welfare; Spanish Agency for Consumer Affairs, Food Safety and Nutrition (AECOSAN).
France

Source documents:

FBDG developed by:

  • High Council of Public Health
Croatia

Source documents:

FBDG developed by:

  • Croatian Public Health Institute

Endorsed by the Ministry of Health.

Italy

Source documents:

FBDG developed by:

  • National Institute of Food and Nutrition Research under the patronage of Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Forestry Policies
Cyprus

Source documents:

FBDG developed by:

  • Ministry of Health
Latvia

Source documents:

 

FBDG developed by:

  • Ministry of Health

The guidelines were endorsed by the Ministry of Health.

Lithuania

Source documents:

FBDG developed by:

  • Ministry of Health
Luxembourg

Source documents:

  • Ernaehrung und Bewegung (2016)

FBDG developed by:

  • Ministry of Health
Hungary

Source documents:

FBDG developed by:

  • Hungarian Dietetic Association (MDOSZ) with recommendation of the Food Science Scientific Committee of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences
Malta

Source documents:

FBDG developed by:

  • Ministry for Health; Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Directorate
Netherlands

Source documents:

FBDG developed by:

  • Netherlands Nutrition Centre
Austria

Source documents:

FBDG developed by:

  • Ministry for Labour, Social Affairs, Health and Consumer Protection
Poland

Source documents:

FBDG developed by:

  • Institute of Food and Nutrition, Warsaw, Poland
Portugal

Source documents:

FBDG developed by:

  • Faculty of Nutrition and Food Science of University of Porto, Portuguse Consumer Institute, Directorate-General for Health
Romania

Source documents:

FBDG developed by:

  • Romanian Nutrition Society
Slovenia

Source documents:

FBDG developed by:

  • National Institute of Public Health
Slovakia

Source documents:

FBDG developed by:

  • Public Health Authority of the Slovak Republic
Finland

Source documents:

FBDG developed by:

  • State Nutrition Advisory Board

Sweden

Source documents:

FBDG developed by:

  • Swedish National Food Agency
United Kingdom

Source documents:

FBDG developed by:

  • Public Health England in association with the Welsh Government, Food Standards Scotland and the Food Standards Agency in Northern Ireland.
Switzerland

Source documents:

FBDG developed by:

  • Swiss Nutrition Society in collaboration with Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office
Iceland

Source documents:

FBDG developed by:

  • The Directorate of Health and a group of specialists from the University of Iceland.
Norway

Source documents:

FBDG developed by:

  • Norwegian Directorate of Health


References