Food-based dietary guidelines

Food-based dietary guidelines - Uruguay

Official name

Dietary guidelines for the Uruguayan population: for a healthy, shared and enjoyable diet (Spanish: Guía alimentaria para la población Uruguaya: para una alimentación saludable, compartida y placentera).

Publication year

Uruguay published their dietary guidelines in 2005. They were thoroughly revised and updated in 2016. 

Process and stakeholders

The revision and development of the 2016 dietary guidelines was conducted by the Nutrition Programmatic Area under the Ministry of Public Health, with the support of an intersectorial group with representatives from different public sector institutions, academia and civil society organizations. 

For the development, the objectives and guiding principles were defined as the conceptual basis, considering the nutrients, the foods and the meal combinations, as well as the cultural and social dimensions that influence dietary practices and condition health.

A situational analysis of the food and nutrition situation was carried out, together with the revision of the scientific evidence, based on the most prevalent nutritional and health issues. Technical recommendations were then elaborated using a problem matrix based on the issues prioritized in the literature revision. Furthermore, the preliminary messages were defined and tested with the population through focus groups and on-line surveys. 

Intended audience

The dietary guidelines are intended for the general population over two years of age.

Food guide

The Uruguayan food guide is a circle that displays the food groups to be consumed regularly as part of a healthy diet: vegetables and legumes; fruits; breads, flour, pasta, rice and potatoes; milk and cheese; meat, fish and eggs; seeds and oils; and sugars and sweets (in small quantities). The size of each food group segment reflects the proportion the group should contribute to the total daily diet. Water is in the center of the circle.

Surrounding the circle are messages promoting physical activity and enjoyment and sharing of food. There are also some additional icons for restricting the consumption of ultra-processed foods. 


The messages are organized in two chapters: 1) "The keys of your day to day" which suggests six messages about lifestyle and way of eating, which are meant to provide guidance for a healthier and more enjoyable life. And 2) the "keys for your table" which gather five messages about how to choose and prepare foods and beverages, to achieve a higher level of health and well being. 

Day to day keys to achieves a healthy, shared and enjoyable diet:

  • Enjoy your food: eat slowly and, when possible, eat in company.
  • Base your diet on natural foods, and avoid the regular consumption of ultra-processed products with excessive contents of fat, sugar and salt.
  • Start your day with a good breakfast and don't skip meals. 
  • Cooking traditional foods is good for you: discover the joy of cooking and make it a shared activity.
  • Be critical with the information and publicity that you receive about diet.
  • Build up to at least two and a half hours of physical activity per week and reduce the time that you spent sitting. 

Keys to achieve a healthy and enjoyable diet at your table:

  • Prefer water to other beverages. Limit sodas, artificial juices and flavored waters.
  • Incorporate vegetables and fruits in all your meals. This will help you to feel good and to maintain a healthy weight.
  • Choose oil for cooking instead of other fats. Avoid buying products with an excessive quantities of fat and specially the ones with trans fat.
  • Include fish at least once a week and reduce the consumption of processed meats, like cold cuts and cured meats.
  • Reduce the salt and sugar added when cooking: small quantities are enough to bring out the flavors.

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