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Food-Based Dietary Guidelines in Europe

Food-Based Dietary Guidelines have been described as science-based recommendations in the form of guidelines for healthy eating.

Health Promotion Knowledge Gateway

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 (pdf) ).

Developing 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 (pdf) ).

Since country-specific nutrient intake levels, availability of food products, and cultural characteristics affect FBDG development, FBDGs are usually unique to the population or country that developed them. Detailed and effective FBDGs for use at EU level, on the other hand, have been deemed not feasible ( EFSA 2010 (pdf) ).

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

Table 1: Summary of FBDG recommendations for starchy foods 

Table 2: Summary of FBDG recommendations for potatoes 

Table 3: Summary of FBDG recommendations for fruit and vegetables 

Table 4: Summary of FBDG recommendations for fruit 

Table 5: Summary of FBDG recommendations for vegetables 

Table 6: Summary of FBDG recommendations for legumes 

Table 7: Summary of FBDG recommendations for milk and dairy products 

Table 8: Summary of FBDG recommendations for meat 

Table 9: Summary of FBDG recommendations for fish 

Table 10: Summary of FBDG recommendations for eggs 

Table 11: Summary of FBDG recommendations for oil and fats 

Table 12: Summary of FBDG recommendations for nuts and seeds 

Table 13: Summary of FBDG recommendations for sweets and desserts 

Table 14: Summary of FBDG recommendations for sugars 

Table 15: Summary of FBDG recommendations for salt 

Table 16: Summary of FBDG recommendations for water 

Table 17: Summary of FBDG recommendations for alcohol 

Table 18: Summary of FBDG guidance on a varied diet 

Table 19: Summary of FBDG guidance on sustainability 

Table 20: Summary of FBDG guidance on lifestyle habits 

Table 21: Summary of FBDG guidance on physical activity 

Table 22: Summary of FBDG guidance on body weight/ Body Mass Index (BMI) 

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.

Sources

Food-Based Dietary Guidelines sources 

References

Overview of the references