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Food-based dietary guidelines

Background

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What are food-based dietary guidelines?

National food-based dietary guidelines (FBDGs) provide context-specific advice and principles on healthy diets and lifestyles, which are rooted on sound evidence, and respond to a country’s public health and nutrition priorities, food production and consumption patterns, sociocultural influences, food composition data, and accessibility, among other factors.

Typically, FBGDs propose a set of recommendations in terms of foods, food groups and dietary patterns to provide the required nutrients to promote overall health and prevent chronic diseases. Yet, many countries are now moving towards more holistic perspectives by addressing food combinations (meals), eating modalities, food safety considerations, lifestyle and sustainability aspects in their FBDGs.

Why do we need food-based dietary guidelines?

88% of countries face a serious burden of either two or three forms of malnutrition: acute and/or chronic undernutrition, micronutrient deficiencies, obesity and diet-related diseases (including type II diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and certain types of cancer).

The causes of malnutrition are complex and multilayered, yet diet is one of the single most important contributors to malnutrition, which itself is influenced by many factors, from personal preferences to the broad national availability of foods.

FBDGs can serve to guide a wide range of food and nutrition, health, agriculture and nutrition education policies and programmes; therefore representing a unique opportunity to favourably impact diets and the food system, from production to consumption.