European food-based dietary guidelines: a comparison and update

Nutrition. 2015 Jul-Aug;31(7-8):908-15. doi: 10.1016/j.nut.2015.01.002. Epub 2015 Jan 29.


Objectives: The aim of this study was to review and update information about food-based dietary guidelines (FBDGs) used by European countries.

Methods: FBDGs from 34 European countries were collected and their pictorial representations, food groupings, and associated messages of healthy eating and behavior were compared.

Results: FBDGs from 34 European countries were collected, representing 64% (34 of 53) of all European countries; 74% (28 of 34) are European Union members. Of these FBDGs, 67% (23 of 34) adopt the pyramid as a food guide illustration, and classify foods into five or six groups. The main food groups are grains, vegetables, fruits, and vegetables and fruits as a unified group. Some differences include the modality of food classification. Despite dietary pattern results from geographic conditions and cultural (ethnic) heritages, most nutritional key points are similar among the different European FBDGs: In particular, the basic message is to consume adequate amounts of grains, vegetables, and fruits with moderate intake of fats, sugars, meats, caloric beverages, and salt. Other healthy behaviors are frequently but not always indicated.

Conclusions: FBDGs still seem insufficient as far as ethnic peculiarities, agreement on how to group foods, and subgroup population nutritional requirements.

Keywords: Dietary guidelines; European countries; FBDGs; Healthy diet; Noncommunicable diseases.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Diet / standards*
  • Europe
  • Food*
  • Fruit
  • Humans
  • Nutrition Policy*
  • Nutritional Requirements / physiology*
  • Vegetables