How are today’s dietary guidelines developed?

The days in which food had just one single purpose, namely subsistence and covering people’s primary biological needs, are long gone. Nowadays, eating is associated with multiple determinants, which are often intertwined, such as nutrition, our senses, emotions and sentimental aspects, the economy, the social aspect…

But our culture and our origins also define what and how we eat. Each of these determinants influences the choices we make, what we eat and when, how we cook, where we buy our food and how much we are willing to pay for it. Nowadays eating well is thus based on a multitude of constantly changing aspects, which force us to review – more regularly than was the case in the past – how dietary guidelines are established.

Culture and newcomers mean dietary guidelines must be revised

Experts and governments have been all too aware of these challenges for several decades already. They understand that it is imperative that they regularly propose and update dietary guidelines, in line with the nutritional situation, with food availability and the culture of each country. But matters have been significantly complicated as this also means taking account of the importance of culture in any actions relating to the supply of traditional (local) food and food that is deemed acceptable from the point of view of people’s faith, their culture, traditions, customs and food preferences.

And while eating is still an act of pleasure, the nature of food as a social marker has also profoundly changed. The expectations of new consumers go even further: they demand ethics, transparency, are interested in food’s origins, traceability and safety, whether it is environment-friendly…

More complex methodologies

Establishing dietary guidelines thus becomes a real challenge for governments, as they must identify the methodologies they must implement to develop simple messages and effective tools that take these cultural realities into account. It is all the more challenging as this information and these resources are created for the population and for health, education and media professionals, as well as for other stakeholders in society who engage with the public.

In other words, everyone must agree with the guidelines, so that they are efficiently enforced and widely accepted.

Why you must absolutely read this monograph!

This monograph examines the origins of dietary guidelines, tracing their history on the global level and highlighting the links between nutrition and culture. This historical overview illustrates the spectacular changes in people’s behaviour over the past decades.

It also takes a peek behind the scenes of the work that is currently being conducted by the French and Canadian governments and experts as they review their dietary guidelines. A dual analysis that highlights how important cultural traditions are when it comes to defining methodologies.

Finally, the analysis also touches upon the original approach that was implemented in Brazil and presents the newest trends and innovative practices for developing dietary guidelines. We hope you enjoy reading this monograph and don’t forget to take a look at our special report!

Interested in this topic? Want to find out more? Take a look at the recap of the
2017 Louis Bonduelle Foundation Conference, which was held on 13 June in Montréal and focused on food cultures.