Recommandations alimentaires

Food-based dietary guidelines - Benin

Official name 

Benin's dietary guidelines (French: Guide alimentaire du Bénin).

Publication year

The guidelines were published in 2015. 

Stakeholder involvement

The process of development of the Benin dietary guidelines was led by the Regional Institute of Public Health of Ouidah, Faculty of Health Sciences of Cotonou, Faculty of Agronomic Sciences, Food and Nutrition Council. Other stakeholders involved included representatives from the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Primary Education, WHO, FAO, WFP, UNICEF, Benin Nutrition Society and Consumers Association.

The guidelines have been endorsed by the Food and Nutrition Council, which reports to the Presidency.

Development process

The guidelines aim to provide the Beninese population over the age of five with the information necessary for a healthy and balanced diet in order to prevent nutritional deficiencies and chronic diseases linked to nutrition.

The development process started in 2009 and ended in 2015. It consisted of the following processes: 

  • Conducting studies on the nutritional status of adults and their determinants (2008 StepWise Survey, studies on nutritional transition and risk factors for cardiovascular diseases in urban, semi-urban and rural areas, nutritional, intake of sodium chloride and calcium by populations, etc.). These studies complemented national surveys on the nutritional status of children under five and their mothers, such as DHS, MICS surveys, Global Vulnerability and Food and Nutrition Security Analyses.
  • Reviewing the literature on the determinants of the nutritional status of the Beninese population, eating habits and physical activity levels, as well as on available nutritional education tools.
  • Establishing a national multi-sectoral committee of 40 key resource persons (Ministry of Health, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Primary and Basic Education, Faculty of Health Sciences, Regional Institute of Public Health of Ouidah, Faculty of Agronomic Sciences, Institute of Applied Biomedical Sciences, Directorate of Food and Nutrition, FAO, WFP, WHO, UNICEF).
  • Organizing individual and group interviews with members of the national multi-sectoral committee to collect information during the literature review and for the validation of the various information and communication elements and tools of the food guide, based on the results of the literature review.
  • Organizing four major meetings involving teachers, researchers and students from the University of Montreal and the Regional Public Health Institute of Ouidah / Benin: 1. official launch of the process and validation of general dietary advice for the prevention of chronic diseases. 2. proposal of food groups and a visual representation of the guidelines. 3. Validation of the modifications proposed during individual meetings on various quantitative aspects (recommended portions of food, choice of units of measure to illustrate the size of the food portions) and qualitative (choice of foods and menus offered as examples). 4. Multisectoral validation of the guidelines.
  • Using linear programming to determine, for each predefined food group, the optimal number and size of servings of commonly consumed foods.
  • Official delivery of the guidelines to the permanent secretary of the Food and Nutrition Council of Benin. 


There is no official plan to implement the guidelines in Benin. 


There is no official monitoring /evaluation plan for the guidelines in Benin.

Food guide

The graphical representation of the guidelines is a round traditional house with a thatch roof. Five food groups are displayed as wall layers in order of largest to smallest amounts: cereals/tubers; plant/animal-protein foods; vegetables; fruits; and dairy products (or high-Ca foods as substitutes). At the entrance there is a bottle of water, symbol of Beninese hospitality and a reminder that plenty of water should be drank throughout the day.


Benin's dietary guidelines are aimed at the healthy population 2 years and over, primarily in urban and semi-urban settings. They include separate food group recommendations  for different population groups: children 2-13 years, adolescents 14-18 years, adults 19 years and over and pregnant and lactating women.

  • Do physical activity—such fast walking or your favourite sport—every day for at least 30 minutes. People who do physically demanding jobs can worry a little less about doing physical activity outside of work. Sustained physical activity contributes to the efficacy of insulin, weight control and the prevention of high blood pressure.
  • Eat plenty of vegetables such as tomatoes, carrots, aubergines and green leafy vegetables each day, either separately of as part of a sauce.
  • Eat fruits every day. Fruits are a rich source of vitamin, minerals and antioxidants.
  • Drink carbonated drinks and sugar-sweetened beverages in moderation. These kinds of drinks only provide sugar and can promote obesity and diabetes.
  • If you drink alcoholic beverages, do not consume more than one drink a day, as alcohol can be toxic to the body even in small doses.
  • Avoid meals and products high in salt. An excessive consumption of salt by adding extra salt to meals at the table, frequently consuming salted fish and stock cube usage, may increase the risk of high blood pressure. Seasoning with prawns, garlic and ginger provides little salt.
  • Consume fish frequently. When there is no meat, fish or eggs in a given day, you can replace them with pulses, peanuts, soybeans, soya, cheese or peas. All these foods are rich sources of protein.
  • Limit the amount of oil/fat you use when cooking. Too much oil/fat, especially if it is animal fat, may promote obesity and cardiovascular disease. Also avoid multiple cooking with the same oil.
  • Preserve your traditional cuisine and teach it to your children in order for them to appreciate and protect their health and food culture. Traditional foods are generally better for your health than highly processed products.
  • Check your weight and blood pressure regularly.