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Background: Food-Based Dietary Guidelines (FBDG) serve as an approach to provide dietary and lifestyle information with the ultimate goal to contribute to public health. Recommendations for the development and implementation of FBDG are given by the EFSA and the WHO/FAO. An overview of the currently present FBDG and used elements in FBDG is lacking.
Aim: The aims of this study were (1) to provide an overview of all official FBDG that are currently present for the general healthy population, and (2) to get insight in the elements and visual approaches used in these guidelines.
Methodology: A comprehensive internet search was performed to analyse the presence of official FBDG in a total of 226 countries worldwide. Both information content and visual representation of FBDG were reviewed using descriptive statistics.
Results: FBDG were found for 93 out of 226 countries, of which 79 FBDG included a visual representation. Representations of six or seven food groups in FBDG were most common. In 61% of FBDG, cereals were the most prominent food group representing the highest relative amount of food to be eaten. Hierarchical models, such as pyramids, were used about as frequently as non-hierarchical models, such as plates. The lifestyle factor “exercise” was mentioned in 85% of FBDG. Non-caloric beverages and exercise were present in the visual representation in 48% and 46% of FBDG, respectively.
Conclusion: 41% of the analysed countries had a national FBDG. Most FBDG included a visual representation, consisted of six or seven food groups and made use of graphic design aspects like colour. FBDG considerably differed regarding the food groups that were represented and graphic design aspects, like hierarchy and shape.