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The Joint Research Centre (JRC) is the European Commission's science and knowledge service which employs scientists to carry out research in order to provide independent scientific advice and support to EU policy.
Today is World Food Day, a day of action dedicated to tackling global hunger.
This year’s theme is ‘Healthy Diets for a #ZeroHunger World’.
To mark the occasion, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have published a set of Guiding Principles for Sustainable Healthy Diets.
These guiding principles take into account nutrient recommendations and nutrient intake goals, and consider the three pillars of sustainability: environmental, social/cultural, and economic sustainability.
They are the result of an international expert consultation process between the FAO, the WHO and 24 invited experts from around the world, including JRC scientist Davy Vanham.
Sustainable Healthy Diets promote all dimensions of individuals’ health and wellbeing, have low environmental pressure and impact, are accessible, affordable and equitable, and are culturally acceptable.
The aims of Sustainable Healthy Diets are to
These guidelines provide valuable policy recommendations for sustainable food systems that are healthy, environmentally friendly, and culturally and economically sustainable: an issue that is increasingly at the forefront of citizen’s concerns.
They can, for example, contribute to the revision of national Food-Based Dietary Guidelines (FBDG).
In the past, such FBDGs generally only provided advice on foods, food groups and dietary patterns to provide the required nutrients to the general public to promote overall health and prevent chronic diseases (see e.g. the FAO’s Food-based dietary guidelines), thereby only addressing the “healthy” part of diets.
In the EU, some recently revised FBDGs now also include the “sustainable” part of sustainable healthy diets. For example, the Flemish region of Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany revised their FBDGs to include certain aspects of environmental sustainability.
It is hoped that these international guidelines will push this drive towards sustainable consumption to the global stage.
 Potatoes, sweet potatoes, cassava and other starchy roots are not classified as fruits or vegetables.