Policies to promote healthy eating in Europe: a structured review of policies and their effectiveness


M Mazzocchi, Department of Statistics, University of Bologna, Via Belle Arti 41, 40126 Bologna, Italy. E-mail: m.mazzocchi@unibo.it, Phone: +39-051-2098225; Fax: +39-051-232153.


This review provides a classification of public policies to promote healthier eating as well as a structured mapping of existing measures in Europe. Complete coverage of alternative policy types was ensured by complementing the review with a selection of major interventions from outside Europe. Under the auspices of the Seventh Framework Programme's Eatwell Project, funded by the European Commission, researchers from five countries reviewed a representative selection of policy actions based on scientific papers, policy documents, grey literature, government websites, other policy reviews, and interviews with policy-makers. This work resulted in a list of 129 policy interventions, 121 of which were in Europe. For each type of policy, a critical review of its effectiveness was conducted, based on the evidence currently available. The results of this review indicate a need exists for a more systematic and accurate evaluation of government-level interventions as well as for a stronger focus on actual behavioral change rather than changes in attitude or intentions alone. The currently available evidence is very heterogeneous across policy types and is often incomplete.