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PLoS One. 2011 Feb 23;6(2):e14721. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0014721.

Potential effects of nutrient profiles on nutrient intakes in the Netherlands, Greece, Spain, USA, Israel, China and South-Africa.

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  • 1Department of Health Sciences, VU University Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.



Nutrient profiling is defined as the science of categorising foods based on their nutrient composition. The Choices Programme is a nutrient profile system with criteria that determine whether foods are eligible to carry a "healthier option" stamp. The Daily Menu Method which has been developed to evaluate these criteria is described here. This method simulates the change in calculated nutrient intakes which would be the result of consumers changing their diets in favour of food products that comply with the criteria.


Average intakes of energy, trans fatty acids (TFA), saturated fatty acids (SAFA), sodium, added sugar and fibre were derived from dietary intake studies and food consumption surveys of 7 countries: The Netherlands, Greece, Spain, the USA, Israel, China and South Africa. For each of the key nutrients, these average intakes were translated into three Typical Daily Menus per country. Average intakes based on these three menus were compared with average intakes from three Choices Daily Menus. To compose the Choices Menus, foods from the Typical Menus that did not comply with the Choices criteria were replaced with foods that did comply and are available on the market.


Comparison of intakes from the Choices Menus with the survey data showed that calculated intakes of energy, SAFA, TFA, sodium and added sugar were reduced. Fibre intakes were increased. The size of the effect differed per country.


The Daily Menu Method is a useful means to predict the potential effects of nutrient profiles such as the Choices criteria, on daily nutrient intakes. The method can be applied internationally and confirms that the criteria of the Choices Programme are in line with the aim of the programme: to improve nutrient intakes in the direction of the recommendations.

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