An analysis of methods used to synthesize evidence and grade recommendations in food-based dietary guidelines

Nutr Rev. 2018 Apr 1;76(4):290-300. doi: 10.1093/nutrit/nux074.


Evidence-informed guideline development methods underpinned by systematic reviews ensure that guidelines are transparently developed, free from overt bias, and based on the best available evidence. Only recently has the nutrition field begun using these methods to develop public health nutrition guidelines. Given the importance of following an evidence-informed approach and recent advances in related methods, this study sought to describe the methods used to synthesize evidence, rate evidence quality, grade recommendations, and manage conflicts of interest (COIs) in national food-based dietary guidelines (FBDGs). The Food and Agriculture Organization's FBDGs database was searched to identify the latest versions of FBDGs published from 2010 onward. Relevant data from 32 FBDGs were extracted, and the findings are presented narratively. This study shows that despite advances in evidence-informed methods for developing dietary guidelines, there are variations and deficiencies in methods used to review evidence, rate evidence quality, and grade recommendations. Dietary guidelines should follow systematic and transparent methods and be informed by the best available evidence, while considering important contextual factors and managing conflicts of interest.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Food Analysis / methods*
  • Humans
  • Nutrition Policy*
  • Nutritional Sciences / methods*