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                                Healthy diet

                                  Overview

                                  A healthy diet helps protect against malnutrition in all its forms and is a foundation for health and development. It also helps to prevent noncommunicable diseases including diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, some cancers and other conditions linked to obesity. Together with a lack of physical activity, an unhealthy diet is one of the leading global risks to health.

                                  Evidence shows the benefits of a diet high in fruit, vegetables, legumes, nuts and grains, but lower in salt, free sugars and fats, particularly saturated and trans fats. Developing a healthy diet begins early in life with breastfeeding and educational initiatives for young children and parents. These benefits are reflected in higher educational outcomes, productivity and lifelong health.

                                  However, there are many ways in which a healthy diet can be inaccessible, particularly in low- and middle-income countries and in situations with high rates of food insecurity such as armed conflict. Around the world, an estimated 2 billion people lack access to safe, nutritious and sufficient food. The proliferation of highly processed food, rapid unplanned urbanization and changing lifestyles has also contributed to more people eating unhealthy diets high in energy, fats, free sugars and salt.

                                  Action

                                   

                                  What constitutes a healthy diet may differ depending on the needs of the individual, locally available foods, dietary customs, cultural norms and other considerations. However, the basic principles of healthy eating remain the same for everyone. The nature of access to food requires broader solutions at the societal level to promote healthy and safe food options.

                                  Broadly speaking, a healthy diet means there should be a balance between energy intake (calories) and energy expenditure. WHO also recommends limiting sodium intake to less than 2 grams per day (equivalent to 5 grams of salt), reducing free sugars to less than 10% (ideally 5%) of total energy intake, and shifting fat intake away from industrial trans fats.

                                  As part of efforts to support the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 2016–2025 UN Decade of Action on Nutrition, WHO works with Member States and partners toward the goal of a world free from malnutrition.

                                   

                                  less than 5 grams

                                  salt per day

                                  can reduce blood pressure and the risk of several diseases

                                  Find out more

                                  Limit free sugars

                                  Limit intake of free sugars to less than 10% of total energy intake

                                  News

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                                  Publications

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                                  Report of the technical consultation on measuring healthy diets: concepts, methods and metrics

                                  Food systems and diets are changing everywhere and monitoring the healthfulness of diets at global and national levels is becoming increasingly important....

                                  Food systems for health: information brief

                                  WHO is promoting the implementation of a package of game changing food systems actions, that complement each other and focus on improving the nutritional...

                                  Countdown to 2023: WHO report on global trans-fat elimination 2021

                                  This third annual report monitors global progress towards the 2023 target for global elimination of industrially produced trans-fatty acids (TFA),...

                                  Implementing school food and nutrition policies: a review of contextual factors

                                  Schools play an important role in promoting healthy diets and good nutrition and can create an enabling environment for children. However, the school food...

                                  Implementing policies to restrict food marketing: a review of contextual factors

                                  Consumers are exposed to powerful and prevalent food marketing in their food environment. Such marketing is predominantly of foods and non-alcoholic beverages...

                                  Implementing nutrition labelling policies: a review of contextual factors

                                  Nutrition labelling on packaged foods is intended to inform the consumer of nutritional properties of a food. However, some labels may create false perceptions...

                                  Implementing fiscal and pricing policies to promote healthy diets: a review of contextual factors

                                  Prices and promotions of foods and non-alcoholic beverages within the food environment can incentivize or disincentivize consumers’ food decisions....

                                  Food systems delivering better health: executive summary

                                  Today, our food systems are making us ill, driving climatic change and undermining the health of ecosystems. This new “Food Systems Delivering Better...

                                  Resources

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                                  This report presents the first global assessment of food insecurity and malnutrition for 2020 and offers some indication of what hunger might look...

                                  The state of food and security and nutrition in the world 2020 publication cover

                                  Newly accessible data this year made it possible to estimate hunger in the world with greater accuracy, including a revision of the entire series of undernourishment...

                                  state-food-security-nutrition-2019-cov-en

                                  This year’s report presents evidence that the absolute number of people who suffer from hunger continues to slowly increase. The report also highlights...

                                  Front-of-pack labelling (FOPL) is an important policy tool for countries to help consumers to make healthier food choices. This document – WHO guiding...

                                  30 August 2018

                                  Healthy diet

                                  Consuming a healthy diet throughout the life-course helps prevent malnutrition in all its forms as well as a range of noncommunicable diseases and conditions....