Food-based dietary guidelines

Food-based dietary guidelines - France

Official name

The French National Nutrition and Health Program’s dietary guidelines. (French: Guides nutritions du Programme national nutrition santé (PNNS))

Publication year

The latest edition of the Guidelines was published in 2011. A new process to update the guidelines will start at the end of 2016.

Process and stakeholders

The guidelines were developed by a multi-sectoral committee made up of representatives from different ministries, national health agencies, public research institutes and other relevant groups. The preliminary guides are subjected to an extensive consultation process with a variety of stakeholders and actors. The guidelines are part of the National Nutrition Policy.

Intended audience

The PNNS has developed guides for the general public, pregnant and lactating women, parents of children 0-3 years, parents of children 3-18 years, teenagers, people older than 55 years and caregivers of the elderly. 

Food guide


The guide for the general public provides recommendations based on the objectives of the PNNS, citing:

  • Increase the consumption of fruits and vegetables, regardless of their forms (raw, cooked, natural, prepared, fresh, frozen or canned), to achieve at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day.
  • Consume foods that are rich in calcium (mainly dairy products, in addition to vegetables and mineral water rich in calcium, for those who consume mineral water).
  • Limit the consumption of total fat and particularly of saturated fat; these are provided by certain foods which are best consumed in moderation (pastries, meats, butter, sauces and certain cheeses).
  • Increase the consumption of starchy foods, including cereals (especially whole grain cereals, which provide fiber), potatoes, pulses, etc. They should be present at each meal.
  • Eat meat, fish, other seafood and eggs alternating 1 or 2 times per day, giving preference to leaner meat cuts and fish (at least twice a week)
  • Limit the consumption of sugar and foods high in sugar (soft drinks, candies, chocolate, pastries, desserts, etc).
  • Limit the consumption of alcoholic drinks, which should not exceed 2 glasses (10 cl) of wine for women and 3 for men per day (2 glasses of wine of 10 cl are equal to 2 pints of beer or 6 cl of spirits).
  • Increase physical activity in daily life to achieve at least the equivalent of 30 minutes of fast walking per day (take the stairs, running errands on foot, etc) and reduce sedentary activities in children (time spent watching tv, playing video games, etc).
  • Limit the consumption of salt and always prefer iodized salt; enjoy the benefits of sunlight in moderation; and monitor your weight regularly.

The guide provides 25 portraits that represent different patterns of eating behaviours (e.g. “I want to eat, protect my health and enjoy it” or “I struggle to make ends meet” or “I do not cook”) and provides specific recommendations tailored to each one.

The PNNS also issues 9 reference points for a healthy diet: 5 portions of fruits and vegetables per day; 3 portions of dairy per day; starches at each meal and according to appetite; meats, fish and eggs 1 or 2 times per day; limit fats, sugar and salt; drink water at will; and practice physical activity at least 30 minutes per day.